MBB Recap: ‘Cats on postseason prowl

Tim Richer

Coming off consecutive home wins over ranked opponents, the Wildcats (14-5, 3-3 Big East) won their third straight on Tuesday night, defeating the Providence Friars (13-6, 3-3 Big East) 82-73 at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, R.I.

‘Nova was led again by Big East Rookie of the Week, Scottie Reynolds. After scoring 27 points against Notre Dame and 26 over Texas, Reynolds put up 20 on 7-of-14 shooting from the field, playing the entire game for the Wildcats in their effort over the Friars.

Mike Nardi added 19 points for Villanova, scoring 16 in the first half. The senior had a sharp shooting night, hitting seven of his 10 shots including five makes from downtown.

With the win, the Wildcats improved to a .500 conference record, putting them back into the thick of the Big East standings.

The victory over the Friars was the second straight game that leading scorer Curtis Sumpter did not start, although the Wildcats were not completely without their tri-captain. Sumpter, bothered by a bone bruise in his right leg, did not play in Saturday’s game against Texas. He entered the game early in the first half after the ‘Cats frontcourt got into foul trouble.

The injured Sumpter played just 16 minutes and scored seven points off the bench in the winning effort. Shane Clark, starting in place of the star forward, recorded 11 points and six rebounds.

Early foul trouble for forwards Dante Cunningham, Shane Clark and Will Sheridan hampered the ‘Cats; however, they were able to get strong efforts off the bench from freshmen Casiem Drummond and Reggie Redding. The freshmen combined for eight points, five steals, and four boards.

Villanova, leading by as many as 13 points in the second half, allowed Providence to cut the lead to four with a little over a minute left in the game. After a blown alley-oop to Providence forward Geoff McDermott, the Wildcats pulled away to secure the victory.

For the Friars the loss broke a 12-game home winning streak and was only their second defeat in 15 games this season at home in “The Dunk.”

Providence was led by guards Sharaud Curry and Dwain Williams, who each contributed 18 points. Villanova was able to contain the Friars’ star forward Herbert Hill to just 12 points.

Current Boston Celtics guard and former Villanova All-American Allan Ray was in attendance to see the victorious ‘Cats.

The Wildcats look to extend their winning streak to four when they play No. 22 Notre Dame on Saturday at the Joyce Center. Villanova defeated the Irish in their first meeting this season at the Pavilion, 102-87.