Villanova vs. Providence Game Recap | 1-29-2023
Written by David Szczepanski on January 31, 2023
In their second game at the Wells Fargo Center this season, Villanova loses a close battle against #23 ranked Providence, 70-65. After leading at halftime, the Wildcats could not keep up with the scoring of the Friars in the second half. However, Sunday afternoon’s game did feature the return of Guard Justin Moore for the Wildcats. Moore, who averaged around 15 points per game last season, scored five points in the game versus the Friars during his 2022-23 season debut. Cam Whitmore led the Wildcats with 21 points while shooting 8-16 from the field and 4-8 from behind the arc.
Even after only scoring two points in the first twenty minutes, Jared Bynum led the Friars with 19 points in 24 minutes. Ed Croswell, a forward from Philadelphia, had 14 points for the Friars on Sunday. Devin Carter and Bryce Hopkins, who is the leading average scorer per game on the season for Providence, combined for 25 points.
The first five minutes of this game was all Wildcats. After a Cam Whitmore three-pointer, Villanova extended their early lead to five points, 11-6. Both teams would exchange baskets for the next few minutes, and the Wildcats held the lead the entire first half until Friars’ Ed Croswell dunked with 8:46 left to play in the first.
With about five minutes left to play in the first half, Brandon Slater knocked down a huge three that was followed by a Justin Moore signature move layup. The Wildcats now led the Friars, 26-22, with 4:38 left to play. Villanova would eventually extend their lead to seven points after a three-point play from Daniels, and a dunk by Cam Whitmore.
However, with just 1:34 left in the first, Bryce Hopkins knocked down a jumper and Devin Carter hit both free throws to cut the Providence deficit to just three points. Neither team would score before the break, and the Wildcats took a 31-28 lead into halftime.
The Wildcats shot 44% from the field in the first half, and the Friars shot 46% from the field. Both teams were perfect from the charity stripe. The Wildcats received balanced scoring from their starters, and Eric Dixon led the way with eight points for Villanova at the half. Ed Croswell had 10 points for the Providence Friars, and the Wildcats needed to find a way to stop him in the second half.
The second half started with an Ed Croswell layup. However, Whitmore quickly responded with another dunk. With 17:50 left on the game clock, Noah Locke stole the ball after a bad pass by Slater. Locke would eventually knock down the jumper at the other end, which was followed by a layup from Ed Croswell. The Friars now led by three points, which tied their biggest lead of the game at the time.
Both teams would exchange buckets for a few minutes and Villanova eventually cut the deficit to one after a crucial Cam Whitmore three. About 70 seconds later, Mark Armstrong used his athleticism and speed to get into the paint and knock down a layup. The Wildcats led 39-38 with 14:47 left to play.
After being tied for a few possessions, Villanova went on a 7-0 run capped by a layup from Cam Whitmore, who scored five of the seven points on this run (Dixon had the other two points.) However, with about ten minutes left to play, Providence went on their own run and took a 50-49 lead after a jumper from Jared Bynum. Bynum really carried the Friars in this second half, especially on this much needed Providence run.
The Wildcats retook the lead after a Caleb Daniels three-pointer; however, Providence would take back the lead and extend it to three points after a three from Hopkins. With just 2:37 left in the game, the Friars built their biggest lead of the game at six after a jumper from Carter. The Wildcats would need a quick response, and they indeed received one.
Daniels knocked down two free throws, which was followed by a Cam Whitmore three at the top of the key. The Wildcats now only trailed by one after the 5-0 run. The teams would not score for the next 90 seconds. The Friars would takeover key possession with 44 seconds left, and Villanova’s defense would collapse into the paint and allow Jared Bynum to hit an open jumper. The Friars now led by three, 68-65, with just 25 seconds left.
Justin Moore tried to find Brandon Slater at the other end of the court for the quick two; however, Moore’s pass went over Slater’s head and into the stands. Villanova would lose 70-65 after two more free throws from Providence’s Jared Bynum.
Look at the Standings
The Wildcats fall to 4-6 in Big East play, and the Friars improve to 9-2 in Big East play. The Friars are also now ranked 17th in the country. Even though this was a tough loss for Villanova, the Wildcats battled against an incredibly talented Providence team. And the return of Justin Moore helped Villanova on Sunday, and his return should obviously even further benefit this team down the stretch.
The Wildcats’ next game is tomorrow (2-1-2023) at Marquette beginning at 8:30pm.