VILLANOVA, Pa. – Bryce Cotton clanked in a straight-on three-pointer with three seconds left to give Providence a 55-52 Big East win over Villanova Sunday at the Pavilion.
Villanova had scored nine straight points to tie the game after trailing 52-43 with 4 ½ minutes left before Cotton’s game-winner.
Overall, Providence made 10 of 15 three-pointers, good for 67 percent.
James Bell and JayVaughn Pinkston scored all nine of Villanova’s points during Villanova’s furious rally, and Bell tied the game at 52-all with 42 seconds left with two foul shots.
Vincent Council missed a runner for Providence with 12 seconds left, but freshman guard Josh Fortune controlled the offensive rebound, setting up Cotton’s game-winner.
Bell’s desperation half-court shot at the buzzer for the tie hit the back of the rim.
Fortune, averaging just 2.3 points per game in Big East play, made all five of his 3-pointers – four of them during a six-minute first-half span – and finished with 15 points. Cotton scored 18.
Villanova was 0-for-7 from three-point range in the second half.
The Wildcats led by as much as 10 points in the first half and by four midway through the second half.
Villanova has now lost back-to-back games since its landmark wins over No. 5 Louisville and No. 3 Syracuse, and this one, at home over an unranked, unheralded team that’s been struggling, was particularly damaging to the Wildcats’ NCAA tournament hopes.
The Wildcats shot just 28 percent from the field (14-for-51), 13 percent from three (2-for-15) and committed 18 turnovers.
Villanova fell to 13-9 overall and 4-5 in the Big East. They’ve lost five of their last seven, with the only wins coming over two top-5 teams.
Providence, 11-11 overall and 3-7 in the Big East, had lost three straight and nine of its last 11. The win was the Friars’ first since a 69-66 home win over Villanova on Jan. 19.
Providence made two baskets in the first 11 ½ minutes of the first half and just two in the first nine minutes of the second half.
Fortune’s offensive rebound with the game tied gave Providence a second chance as time wound down. Had Villanova controlled the loose ball, they would have had 10 seconds to set up for a game-winning shot.
Villanova’s 29-23 half-time deficit was its first since it trailed Columbia 26-22 back on Nov. 20, a game Columbia eventually won 75-57. Villanova had led at halftime in 16 consecutive games, going 10-6 in those games.
By the numbers
Hilliard led Villanova with 17 points but made just three of 13 baskets. Mouphtaou Yarou added 10 points and 14 rebounds.
Quick turnaround for Villanova, which travels tomorrow to Chicago for a Tuesday night game against DePaul, which is 10-11 and last lost six straight. The ESPN2 game is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. The Wildcats are back at the Pavilion for a 3 p.m. ESPNU game Saturday against South Florida.