I would like to first apologize for the two week absence for The Point After. The college semester is in full gear right now and all of our writers, including myself, have been swamped with school and work. I promise to make it up to you guys with a lot of content over the next few days.
Not many people showed up to watch two of the worst Big East basketball teams play at the Pavilion last night, but the crowd hadn't been louder all season. Providence and Villanova were a combined 5-17 in Big East play entering the night and represented the 14th and 15th ranked teams in the league of 16. The game throughout the first 15 minutes was back and forth. Both teams turned the ball over, missed shots, and made simple mistakes; however, Providence pulled away a little bit at the end of the half, as Bryce Cotton hit 6 of 7 3-pointers in the half. Villanova had no answer and trailed 44-30 as they went back to the locker room.
While Jay Wright scolded his team for sloppy play and awful perimeter defense, the fans were treated to a ping-pong match, missed half-court shot, and a great Bollywood Fusion performance by Nova Nassa. When the team came out of the tunnel to start their shootaround, some of the student section had already left to go hit the books. But, boy did they regret leaving this one.
The second half started off just like it ended, with Bryce Cotton hitting a perimeter jumper and the Villanova student section shouting at the poor play. The teams traded baskets, but LaDontae Henton hit a couple of three pointers to stretch the lead to 60-41. Moments after a timeout by Jay Wright, Villanova started showing some life. The Wildcats then strung together a 22-3 run to tie the game at 63. After a small Friar run, Villanova trailed 72-67 with the ball. JayVaughn Pinkston was given the ball at the top of the key and he simply abused the lackluster defense. He drove to the basket and was hacked, but nothing was stopping JVP from getting to the hoop. Pinkston absorbed the contact and dropped in the layup with the foul. With the crowd roaring, JVP went up to the line and calmly knocked down his 8th free throw of the game.
Just moments later, James Bell and Ty Johnson executed a perfect trap, stealing the ball at mid-court. Bell then threw a pass to a streaking JayVaughn Pinkston, who threw down the hammer to tie up the game at 72. Villanova then forced another tough shot and got the ball back with a chance to take the lead. Jay Wright called timeout to draw something up, but everybody in the building knew where the ball was going. Wright has been criticized by many, including myself, because of his lack of creative play-calling, but he knew exactly what to do here. Ty Johnson controlled the ball at the top of the key and Mouph Yarou set a pick giving Johnson some room near the right wing. As this happened, JVP rolled to the top of the key where he gained some separation from his defender. Johnson gave the ball to the hot hand and JVP went to work. Pinkston went right to the hoop in a situation where many players settle for a tough jumper. JayVaughn took his man to the rack and dropped in a layup to take the lead.
Providence was forced to take a timeout and Villanova subbed in their defensive unit, led by 6'10, 210 pound Maurice Sutton. The Friars had just over 10 seconds to score and they started with Gerard Coleman going towards the hoop. As Coleman began to shoot a 10 foot running jumper, Maurice Sutton stretched every bit of his mile-long arms and threw Coleman's shot back to the three point line. Bryce Cotton picked up the loose ball and forced up a three-pointer with Ty Johnson up in his grill. The shot hit the left rim and bounced away, as the buzzer sounded.
JayVaughn Pinkston had the game of his life, dropping 28 points, with 8 coming from the charity strike. Pinkston simply was unstoppable in the paint and embarrassed the Friars' front court. It doesn't happen often, but you know you had a good game when the student section is chanting, JVP! JVP! JVP!, while the band is playing the beloved Villanova Fight Song. It was a tremendous win, especially without a healthy Maalik Wayns, who hurt his knee in the contest. It was also nice to see Dominic Cheek not get rattled with all the harsh criticism this year. Cheek has had his fair share of struggles, mostly on the offensive end; however, he continued to shoot and he turned out to be a huge part of the 22-3 run, as he hit two huge threes in that span.
Yes, Villanova will likely not even make the NIT this year, but at least they gave the fans a show last night.