By Mary Cunningham
Phil Booth scored 23 points, including visiting Villanova’s only five points in the final 8 1/2 minutes, and the Wildcats held off Providence 65-59.
Villanova took a 60-40 lead on a jumper by Cole Swider with 8:43 remaining in the second half before Providence went on a 16-0 run over the next seven minutes.
Villanova missed its next six shots and committed seven turnovers and the Friars closed to within 60-56 on a 3-point play by Alpha Diallo with 1:27 remaining.
Booth finally stopped Villanova’s scoring drought, making a layup and free throw for a 63-56 lead at 1:06. Mak Ashton-Langford hit a deep 3-pointer for Providence for a 63-59 score with 57 seconds to go. Ashton-Langford blocked a layup attempt by Booth and Providence had possession with 24 seconds left. But the Friars could not find a shot and were forced to call timeout with seven seconds remaining. Isaiah Jackson missed a deep 3-pointer after the timeout and Booth rebounded, was fouled and made both free throws for the final margin.
Booth added seven rebounds and four assists for Villanova (11-4, 2-0 Big East). Eric Paschall had 13 points and 14 rebounds.
Ashton-Langford led Providence (10-5, 0-2) with 20 points. He made all four of his 3-pointers. Jackson scored 11 points and Diallo added 10.