"I thought our start, kind of jumping on Providence like we did, had a big impact," Wildcats coach Jay Wright said. "They don't have a lot of depth. When you get a lead like that, it's tough for them to play from behind. It all kind of fell into place for us. I guarantee it won't be like that when we [play] at Providence, I promise you. But we'll take it."
The Friars played without guard Kris Dunn, who is out for the season with a shoulder injury. Two freshmen, Imhotep graduate Brandon Austin and Rodney Bullock, have been suspended for the season because of a violation of the college's code of conduct.
Austin, a 6-foot-6 guard who led Imhotep to the PIAA Class AAA title last season, has elected to transfer. Providence coach Ed Cooley said he had "zero comment" regarding the circumstances that led to Austin's departure but added: "I think he's a good kid, I do. I think he's a good kid."
The Wildcats received a strong game from 6-foot-2 guard Dylan Ennis, who had 17 points and a team-high four three-pointers. Ennis, a transfer who sat out nearly a month with a broken left hand, saw 20 minutes of court time after playing only five minutes in Tuesday's overtime win over Butler.
Wright said because Ennis is still learning "little things," he didn't play much in the tight game against the Bulldogs. But he added: "We want him to get in there as much as possible. We think he's going to be a great player."
Ennis said he is willing to adjust to any role that Wright wants him to play.
"Coach tells us we've got to be ready no matter what the score is," he said. "So I'm always just trying to be ready for my team, and all our players do that as well."
The tensest moment in the second half came with about 10 minutes to play when Ennis and teammate Ryan Arcidiacono appeared to bump heads while going for a loose ball. Both looked groggy as they went to the bench, but each player returned a short time later.
JayVaughn Pinkston led Villanova with 19 points, while Darrun Hilliard added 15 and Josh Hart 10. The Friars' Bryce Cotton led all scorers with 25.