Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The State of the Villanova Program Is Strong - Villanova Brings Home Rare Win @ Providence, Triumphing 82-73

by Craig Dimitri

The Wildcats continued their torrid streak, winning their third straight contest on Tuesday night at Providence. It took place on the same evening as President George W. Bush delivered his penultimate State of the Union Address to the newly-Democratic Congress, and its equally-new Speaker of the House , Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California. Surprisingly, Big East basketball was not entirely absent from the latter event - former Georgetown superstar Dikembe Mutombo was seated next to First Lady Laura Bush in the House gallery. Dikembe was praised by President Bush for his humanitarian and philanthropic efforts in his native Congo, as well as his decision to become an American citizen.

The Wildcats' victory snapped Providence's dozen-game home winning streak. Providence ranks among the most difficult home courts in the Big East - that is a primary reason why Villanova has such a dismal history at the Dunkin' Donuts Arena (nee Providence Civic Center). Providence is one of Villanova's most ancient rivals - the schools have clashed 81 times, with the first meeting all the way back in 1936. Villanova has also struggled mightily @ Providence, in this generation: even with Tuesday's victory, the Wildcats are just 3-13 in the Center since 1991.

Villanova improved its record to 3-3 Big East, 14-5 overall, while Providence fell to 3-3 Big East, 13-6 overall.

Although Villanova led just 41-36 at halftime (thanks to one of senior Mike Nardi's four triples, which came just four seconds prior to the buzzer), the winning margin of nine points was enough that the stretch run wasn't too stressful for the Villanova faithful. The Friars were never able to draw closer than four points down the stretch - the closest that they came was 76-72, after Geoff McDermott dunked off a steal with 1:28 to play. But subsequently, the Wildcats were able to corral key defensive rebounds and Providence coach Tim Welsh wisely surrendered, not bothering to foul during the final 30 seconds with his team trailing by nine.

Senior Mike Nardi's 19 points (16 of them in the first half) were a game-high, and freshman Scottie Reynolds continued his strong play with 18 points of his own. As for Providence, Sharaud Curry and Dwain Williams both contributed 18 points to lead the Friars. Its leading scorer, senior Herbert Hill, was reasonably contained by 'Nova's defense; he ended up scoring a dozen points, on only five field goal attempts.

The Wildcats will return to action on Saturday, January 27, at Notre Dame, with tip-off at 4 PM. Villanova will be looking to sweep the Fighting Irish, as the Wildcats riddled the Notre Dame defense on January 17 at the Pavilion, 102-87.

Questions? Comments? Information? You can contact Craig Dimitri at

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