Villanova wins Big East championship, sets sights on another national title

Monday, 12 Mar, 2018

Providence's 76-71 win over "Nova in mid-February was the Wildcats" worst offensive output of the season (in terms of points per possession), so it's certainly not an impossible task, but with the way Villanova has looked so far in NY, it's going to take a near ideal performance to take them down.

Cooley ripped his trousers in the back in the second half of the game, and was forced to wear a Gatorade sweat towel around his waist for the rest of the contest.

Rodney Bullock, left, of Providence and Eric Paschall of Villanova go after a rebound during the 2nd half in the Big East Tournament Championship Game at Madison Square Garden on March 10, 2018.

Brunson led Villanova with 31 points. Kyron Cartwright capped off a tremendous three-game showing in Manhattan with 19 crucial points, including leading the charge to get the game to a bonus session.

Mikal Bridges added 25 for Villanova. Again mimicking Friday night's game, the Wildcats paired their ferocious defensive effort with accurate shooting to open up a lead in the first 4:00, 9-2.

About 30 minutes after top-seeded Xavier was upset by Providence in overtime, the Wildcats (29-4) hit the court and showed how a favorite should play in a tournament semifinal. Not only have the Mountaineers struggled against the Jayhawks in Kansas City, they were swept by them in the regular season - blowing a big second-half lead during the game in Lawrence. Brunson seems boring in comparison until a glance at Saturday's box score reveals he had 31 points in a championship game so high energy that Providence Coach Ed Cooley split his trousers.

It continued on like that, back and forth, until Bridges hit a three-pointer with 3:37 left in overtime to give the Wildcats some space before the Friars ran out of gas. He scored his 25th point on a circus layup shortly after Edwards entered the game.

Jalen Brunson's first sign of emotion in this Big East tournament came, finally, in the closing minutes of its final game.

That's when Cartwright and the Friars made their move.

Villanova was rolling, and if a game can be over in the opening 5 minutes, this was the one. 3 Villanova 76-71 in Providence. The other guys played off - they carried their team today. Cartwright drained a tough, fallaway jumper to tie it at 58-58.

A huge 3-pointer by Bridges pushed the Villanova lead to 58-54 but a scoring drought of 3:24 coupled with free throws by Diallo and a tough turnaround jumper by Cartwright tied the contest at 58. "A lot of credit goes to them for coming out with the level of intensity that they did, and they obviously hit a lot of shots".

What a game and what a difference three days can make. It was the third overtime game for the Friars in as many nights.

Brunson hit two free throws to tie the game at 60 with 30 seconds left, giving Providence the opportunity to hold for the last shot. Providence vs Villanova tv channel is on Fox.

At one point, the Wildcats hit eight straight shots, pushing the lead to 27 - the biggest deficit the Bulldogs have faced all season.

Villanova made the final run of the half as Spellman tipped one in and Brunson drilled a three to give the Wildcats a 31-27 going into the locker room. Villanova's Mikal Bridges was named the Tournament Most Outstanding Player.