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Doug Mendoza
March 12, 2018

Villanova and Providence played a classic Big East tournament championship game Saturday night, but one of the hottest topics postgame was Friars coach Ed Cooley's trousers.

For Providence, the key could be Kyron Cartwright who helped lead the Friars to an 81-72 upset win over Xavier earlier in the season. In 43 minutes, Foster added to his stat line, 19 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal and 2 threes with 3 turnovers. The duo combined to make all the big shots.

The Friars' average margin of victory in their last five games has been 1.2, down from 1.4 for the season.

"I'm really, really sad for our players because I thought we did enough to win the game in regulation", Cooley said. "Even going into the NCAA Tournament it's about just staying confident and comfortable and doing what we need to do to win". "We have high hopes". Cartwright's jumper in the final seconds missed the mark, forcing overtime. "I wanted our young guys to see how much pride they take in them and in following them".

And I'm confident, I think Marcus would agree with me, that we're very comfortable with Mitch taking that shot in that situation.

It continued on like that, back and forth, until Bridges hit a three-pointer with 3:37 left in overtime to give the Wildcats some space before the Friars ran out of gas. Freshman Paul Scruggs had a career-high 15 points on his birthday, including 13 in the first half when Xavier built a 14-points lead.

Despite the effort put in by the Gatorade towel, Providence lost to Villanova, 76-66. There was one minute to play as the Friars prepared to inbound the basketball in tied game.

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COACH COOLEY: When I sat down I felt the great breeze in the crack. We have to live with it right now, but tomorrow we have to let it go, get back to the drawing board, find out who we draw, pick it up and go back at them.

The Friars did that in the final 25 minutes in advancing to the title game against second-seeded Villanova on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden. It also is the first time in Friar history that the squad has played three straight overtime games.

Cartwright converted, splashing a fade away as the shot clock expired to tie the score at 58 with 1:28 to go.

But Bridges and Brunson were the difference for Villanova. In reality this was a four-point game followed by two intentional foul free throws by sophomore guard Dante DiVincenzo, and then two garbage time buckets, a dunk by Brunson and a layup by DiVincenzo.

The Wildcats led 31-27 to begin the second half and Brunson scored six straight to increase the Wildcats' lead to 10.

Brunson tied a career high with 31 points while Bridges - named the Dave Gavitt Award victor as Most Outstanding Player - added 25 points. Providence calls timeout. 9-2 Villanova.

Brunson proved his worth as the best in the conference. Cartwright finished with 15 and Nate Watson, who was a monster in the lane in the second half, had 10 of his 14. Not only have the Mountaineers struggled against the Jayhawks in Kansas City, they were swept by them in the regular season - blowing a big second-half lead during the game in Lawrence.

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