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Providence College Friars Headed To Big East Finals After Miracle Comeback

11 March 2018

While the team's run of regular season conference titles came to an end this season, the third-ranked Wildcats made up for that by beating Providence 76-66 in overtime to win the Big East tournament.

Had Providence won the game, and the Big East title, it would have gone down in school and conference lore. They put the bow on a fantastic season that should have them earn a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

By that time, Providence players were running on the court to celebrate at halfcourt after their second overtime victory in as many days.

"They played great", McDermott said.

Cartwright Shines: Another day, another MSG takeover for Kyron Cartwright. They combined for 25 points on 9-of-15 shooting in their first game ever at Madison Square Garden, the "Mecca of Basketball". They are set to take on Providence after dominating Butler, 87-68. He knocked down a floater over Omari Spellman (51-43), then drilled a top-of-the-key 3 in Spellman's face on the following possession (51-46).

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"It's our senior class", said Cartwright, who scored five of his 13 points in the overtime.

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.

The night before, Cooley had gone to freshman Makai Ashton-Langford for 10 big second-half minutes, and he delivered a jolt in an upset of top-seeded Xavier.

"[We] didn't deliver the knockout punch", Mack said.

Daxter Miles Jr. finished with 25 points, and Jevon Carter had 17 points and nine assists for the Mountaineers, who have lost three consecutive Big 12 Tournament championship games.

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While Villanova certainly got the better of the Bulldogs, Bridges hinted that it may not have been as easy as the score indicated. Diallo would miss his intial shot, but his stickback with 12.9 left tied the game.

The final minute featured dramatic swings with both teams seizing momentum. PC fumbled away a defensive rebound leading to a Bridges layup, and Bridges canned a 3 to push Nova ahead 58-54. Two more Providence free throws closed the lead to 65-64 before Bridges picked up a loose ball near the same spot he had made the earlier triple and poured in another 3-pointer to make it 68-64 in favor of the Cats at the 2:08 mark of overtime.

In describing Jalen Brunson, above, Villanova Coach Jay Wright said Xavier Coach "Chris Mack had the greatest line: He said if you pull down the skin on his face, there would be wires behind it".

Offensive Rebounds Killed the Friars: It's ironic that Cartwright drew comparisons to Bryce Cotton after the Xavier win.

The Wildcats will return to Villanova on Sunday and will gather to watch the NCAA Tournament Selection Show together at 6 p.m.

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The Friars actually took the lead with under a minute left. Villanova put one of those advantages in the bank on Saturday night and got the dividend of a trophy for their trouble. Slowing down Villanova this time figured to be more hard, however. The Friars have been trading wins and losses for much of the back half of the season, having a high point of knocking off then-No. Cartwright's short jumper bounced off the iron and with that overtime beckoned.

Providence College Friars Headed To Big East Finals After Miracle Comeback