Game Recap: Friars Come Up Just Short at Villanova to Finish the Regular Season, 76-74

#9 Providence Friars 74 (24-4)

#11 Villanova Wildcats 76 (22-7)

In the Big East regular season finale between the two best teams in the league, the Providence Friars and Villanova Wildcats played a back-and-forth game that game down to the last possessions, showing why they are the cream of the crop in the league. After being down 14, the Friars showed their experience and battled back the way they’ve been doing all year long. A Justin Minaya 3-pointer got the Friars within 1 with 32 seconds left but the Wildcats, being on pace to break the all-time single season team free throw record this season, put the finishing touches together that they needed, staving off Providence to secure a win on their Senior Night at The Finn.

Game Notes:

  • Jared Bynum got the start with Al Durham taking a breather for the last game of the season, hopefully getting in some good rest for tournament time.
  • Bynum led the way for the Friars with 19 points, 10 assists, 6 rebounds, 2 blocks, and a steal, all while playing 39 of a possible 40 minutes. This was Bynum’s first double-double of his collegiate career.
  • In conference play, Bynum averaged 15.6 ppg (7th), 4.9 apg (3rd), 3.2 rpg, & a conference best 47.1% from three on over 4 attempts per game.
  • Noah Horchler, also playing 39 minutes, was 5/8 from deep, scoring 15 points, taking down a team-high 7 rebounds, with 2 assists, a steal, and a block.
  • Horchler recorded 8 double-doubles this season after notching only 1 all of last year. He also added a new wrinkle to his game, excelling with his high-low game with Nate Watson, to the tune of a career-high 48 assists (1.7 apg). He only dished out a total of 14 assists last season. He almost doubled his blocks from last year (23 vs. 12) and was the 2nd leading rebounder in the conference, tallying 8.5 boards a game. Noah Horchler took his game to another level this season and the Friars wouldn’t be positioned like they are today without him.
  • Horchler’s 5 made threes tied his career-high that he set against Seton Hall earlier this season.
  • A.J. Reeves continues to be fire from three and matched Horchler’s 5 triples with 5 of his own. Over his last 5 games, Reeves has connected on 21 of 38 (55.3%) from deep, an average of 4.2 made threes per game.
  • Reeves finished with 15 points and is exactly where the Friars need him to be shooting-wise to make the deepest run possible this postseason.
  • Nate Waston was stricken with foul trouble in this one, limited to just 24 minutes and finishing with 6 points and 5 rebounds.
  • Justin Minaya cashed in on 3 of 7 from beyond the arc, scoring 11 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 assists. His three made triples tied his season-high that he also recorded against Georgetown and Marquette.
  • Both Ed Croswell (4 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist) and Alyn Breed (4 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal) played well in relief.
  • I’m so ready to no longer play against Colin Gillespie and his blatant offensive push-off that never gets called.
  • Caleb Daniels doesn’t get talked about enough. That dude is a dude. He went for 20 off the bench but typically plays starters minutes.
  • I don’t want to talk about that Brandon Slater dunk but if you did, I wouldn’t be mad at ya (psst, he pushed off with his off-hand to the chest of Minaya).

Next Up, the Friars get some time off and a bye in the first round of the Big East Tournament. They will face the winner of Xavier vs. Butler on Noon on Thursday at MSG.

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