VILLANOVA, Pa. – Bryce Cotton hit the winning 3-pointer with 2.2 seconds left and scored 18 points to lead Providence to a 55-52 win over Villanova on Sunday.
The Friars (11-11, 3-7 Big East) swept the Wildcats after beating them 69-66 last month. Vincent Council missed a jumper with 12 seconds left, but Josh Fortune grabbed the offensive rebound. Cotton buried the second-chance 3-pointer from the top of the arc with 2.2 left for a 55-52 lead.
The Friars nearly blew a nine-point lead with 4:34 remaining down the stretch.
JayVaughn Pinkston's driving bucket down the lane sliced Villanova's deficit to 52-50 with 46.8 seconds left. James Bell then intercepted a pass off a full-court press and was fouled. Bell hit both to make it 52-all with 42 seconds left.
Darrun Hilliard led the Wildcats (13-9, 4-5) with 17 points.
The Wildcats followed a week of wins against top-10 teams Louisville and Syracuse with losses this week at Notre Dame and to the Friars.
They seemed to take control early in the second half. Hilliard connected with Bell on a high-flying alley-oop. Bell then forced a turnover at midcourt that led to Hilliard's layup for a 34-31 lead and brought the usual crowd of 6,500 to their feet for the first time. Ryan Arcidiacono converted a steal into a layup for a 38-35 lead.
Then the Wildcats went south, missing 10 straight shots over a 10-minute span until Bell scored a layup with 2:11 left.
With a rare road win in sight and the Wildcats slumping, Providence pounced. Fortune's fifth 3-pointer on five attempts pulled the Friars within one. Council's 3-pointer gave Providence a 43-41 lead and Cotton connected for another 3 that gave Providence a five-point lead and pushed the junior guard over the 1,000 career point mark. He's the 45th Friar to reach the milestone.
From there, the Friars had the game in control and held off a sloppy Wildcats team that could not find the basket. Providence's 6-foot-10 forward Kadeem Batts came out of nowhere for a huge rejection in the final minutes to keep the Wildcats without a basket.
Fortune scored 15 points on five 3s. Providence was 9 of 15 from the free-throw line after a 29-of-48 effort against the Wildcats last month. Providence made 10 of 15 3-pointers.
Mouphtaou Yarou had 10 points and 10 rebounds for Villanova. The Wildcats had 18 turnovers.
The Friars shook off a 2-of-11 start with six turnovers to take a 29-23 lead into halftime.
Fortune hit a pair of 3s during a 12-0 run that put the Friars up 18-16. Daniel Ochefu missed an open dunk that led Fortune to hit a 3 off the break for the lead. Fortune hit two more 3s the rest of the half, each time putting Providence up three. Cotton hit the Friars' sixth 3-pointer of the half (on eight attempts) to help them close on a whopping 23-7 run and hold a six-point lead.
Fortune was pretty much left open by the Wildcats, with good reason. Not only was Fortune scoreless the last time the two teams played, he hadn't scored a point in four of Providence's last five games. He was a 29 percent 3-point shooter on the season before his flawless first half.
Yarou was the only Wildcat to score more than one basket in the first half.
Providence announced before the game sophomore forward Sidiki Johnson has taken a voluntarily leave of absence from the program. He averaged 3.9 points and 5.1 rebounds in 11 games.