The Providence College men's basketball team (22-11) was defeated by fourth-ranked and top-seeded Villanova in the BIG EAST Semifinals, 63-61, on Friday, March 13 at Madison Square Garden. The Friars battled back from a 13-point second half deficit to tie the game at 61-61 with with 12 seconds left in the game when sophomore Kris Dunn (New London, Conn.) converted on a layup after the Friars stole the inbound pass.
However, Villanova's Ryan Arcidiacono sank two free throws with three seconds left in regulation, and a long range three-point attempt to win the game from the Friars' LaDontae Henton (Lansing, Mich.) was off the mark as time expired.
Dunn led all scorers with 22 points and added nine assists and seven rebounds. Freshman Ben Bentil (Wilmington, Del.) registered his second-straight double-double in tournament play, and fifth of the season, with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Bentil played a career-high 40 minutes.
The Friars jumped out to a 3-0 lead with less than a minute into the game (19:08) on a Henton three-pointer. Villanova answered with a 7-0 run to take a 7-3 lead and eventually widened the gap to eight (15-7) with 11:17 left in the half. The Friars cut the Wildcat's lead to one point with 8:50 remaining on an 8-1 run (16-15).
Villanova took its largest lead of the half (31-20) heading into the final media time out (3:54). The Friars cut that lead to five at the break (33-28) as they closed the half on an 8-2 run. Dunn led all scorers in the first half with 11 points and also registered five rebounds and four assists. Dunn was followed by Henton with six points.
Providence allowed Villanova to jump out to an eight point lead to open the second half, but narrowed the Wildcats lead to three after a jumper from Dunn and a three-pointer from Bentil to make the game, 36-33, with 17:39 left. Villanova went on an 11-1 run to build a 13 point lead, 47-34 with 13:40 left in the game.
Providence went on an eight point run, which cut the Wildcat lead to just three points, 47-44, with 8:52 left in the game. The run began with a dunk from senior Carson Desrosiers (Windham, N.H.) who was fouled and made the and one, 47-37. Dunn and Bentil each scored two and freshman Jalen Lindsey (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) registered a three pointer for the Friars who still trailed by three, 47-44.
Villanova's Josh Hart nailed a shot from three-point territory to give the Wildcats a five point margin (59-54) with 1:51 left in the game. But after consecutive fouls by Villanova, Henton made three of four free throw shots to make the game, 61-57, with 58 seconds left. Dunn scored on a layup with 16 seconds left to bring the Friars within two, before they stole the inbounds pass and Dunn tied the game at 61.
Henton and Lindsey each finished the game with nine points. Henton also contributed five rebounds.
Josh Hart had a team high 18 points for Villanova.
The Friars dominated on the boards, outrebounding Villanova, 42-30. The Providence Athletics Department will host a NCAA Selection Show watch party at Alumni Hall/Mullaney Gymansium on the campus of Providence College on Sunday, March 15. The Friars will learn where they will be headed for the Second and Third Rounds of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Championship, as CBS releases the bracket. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and NCAA Selection Show begins at 6:00 p.m. The event is free-of-charge and open to the public.
Cox Sports, which will televise the Friar Selection Show Watch Party from 6-7 p.m. live on OSN, will distribute 1,000 FREE t-shirts to fans. Also Coca-Cola will provide free beverages for all fans.
The Friars hope to be making their 17th overall and second consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament. Last season, the Friars captured the 2014 BIG EAST Tournament title and earned an automatic bid to the Tournament. The Friars have posted a 14-17 mark all-time in NCAA Tournament play. Providence is looking to earn its first win in the NCAA Tournament since it defeated UT-Chattanooga, 71-65, on March 21, 1997 to advance to the Elite Eight. The team has made two trips to the Final Four (1973 and 1987), four appearances in the Elite Eight (1965, 1973, 1987, and 1997) and five trips to the Sweet Sixteen (1965, 1973, 1974, 1987, and 1997).
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