Villanova Completes the Repeat: Back to Back Big East Titles

The Villanova Wildcats pulled off an OT victory against the Providence Friars to repeat as Big East Tournament Champions.

The Wildcats jumped out to a quick 10-2 lead on the Friars in the first 4:06 to play in the game. A few buckets by Jalen Brunson coupled with some great defense, held the Friars to 20% shooting during that span. This set the early tone for this match-up. Villanova opened up the game in a three-quarter court trap that seemed to stifle the Friars. Early turnovers from that aggressive defense resulted in Villanova baskets.

With some balanced scoring and excellent effort plays, Providence quickly answered with a 9-1 run to tie it up at 11. Feeling the Friars on their heels, Villanova responded with a (10-0) run themselves. This was primarily fueled by a couple of baskets from Mikal Bridges that featured layups, three-pointers, and free throws.

Mikal Bridges Free Throw (via Felix John-Baptiste)

While the Friars consistently found themselves at a deficit in the first half, their grit and grind style kept them afloat. They played tough on defense and kept bodies in the paint for offensive rebounds. Overall, they out-rebounded Villanova 19-14 in the first half. Despite shooting a dreadful 1-9 from three, they managed to find themselves only down four (31-27) at the half.

Jalen Brunson began the second half on his own personal 8-0 run to push the Wildcat lead to 12. The Wildcats attempted 6 more field goals in the opening minutes of the second half by forcing Providence into 3 quick turnovers.

In what seemed to be a game full of runs, the Friars always answered the challenge. Kyron Cartwright came alive in the second half, connecting on back to back three-pointers to bring Providence within two (51-49). In the first 11:20 of the second half, the Friars hit 5 of 6 threes, further cutting their deficit. They took their first lead of the game, 52-51 with 7:49 left to play.

Kyron Cartwright was the star for the Friars in the second half. He connected on a tough step back jumper to tie the game up at 58 a piece with 1:38 to play.

Providence obtained possession of the ball off a Wildcat turnover and called timeout with 1:00 left on the clock. Coming out of the timeout, the Friars ran screen and roll action with Cartwright and Alpha Diallo. This resulted in a Diallo layup to put the Friars up two (60-58) with 40 seconds to play.

On an attempted drive to the basket, Jalen Brunson was fouled and answered on the other end with two free throws to tie it up at 60. Provide was unable to score a final bucket in regulation and the game was sent to overtime.

Mikal Bridges immediately kicked off OT with back to back three-pointers, putting Providence on notice that they would have to earn a victory. Villanova’s poise and experience showed in OT as they were able to score 16 points in the 5 minute period. Brunson sealed the game with a breakaway dunk with 20.5 seconds to play.

Mikal Bridges finished with 25 points and was named Most Outstanding Player. Already considered a locked number 1 seed by most, Villanova looks to continue their strong play in the big dance.

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