Providence College Friars lose to Villanova in Big East Championship game

Razorbacks Fall To Tennessee in SEC Semifinals 84-66

Providence trailed by as much as 12 points, 43-31, in the second half before rallying to take their first lead of the game, 52-51, on a three-point play by Drew Edwards.

Providence coach Ed Cooley ripped his britches during the Big East Tournament championship game on Saturday night.

"It's great. We're at Madison Square Garden: so much history, so much tradition here, it's awesome", said Jalen Brunson, who scored 31 points, including two free throws that tied it with 30.1 seconds left in regulation.

The Friars had defeated three top-five teams this season and were soaring following overtime victories against Creighton and the Musketeers to reach the final. Brunson knotted the game at 60 with a pair of free throws to force overtime. The three follow three Big East opponents apiece and continue breaking down their offense and defense at tournament time.

However, Villanova would tie the game on two free throws by Brunson with 30 seconds left after a foul was called on Diallo. "I saw Nate Watson grow up", he said. Villanova stormed to a 19 point lead after 20 minutes and traded baskets the rest of the way. So if Villanova truly wants to make a statement about being one of the top favorites heading into Selection Sunday, Saturday's game against Providence can't be overlooked, or they may regret taking a lighter approach to the matchup. So I know how much time this guy spends in there working on those situations. The Friars clawed back again and held the ball with 30 seconds left in regulation with a shot to win the championship.

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Creighton scored 10 consecutive points with 19:39 left in the 2nd Half, making the game 33-26 in favor of Creighton. Ballock had 12 points, four rebounds, and two assists while guarding the bigger, stronger Alpha Diallo for 35 minutes.

"That was one of our best defensive performances", he said. "When they had a chance to distance themselves we got back in it, and we played nearly flawless down the stretch".

"I go back to where we came from and where we're trying to go, our Big East is as dominant as any conference in the country - the product on the floor when people come out from Omaha, coming from Butler, from OH, tells you the brand and the product that's on the floor". Villanova appears to have a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament locked up, and Xavier - boasting a 28-5 record - might still end up with a No. 1 seed as well, despite this loss.

The Post's Neil Greenberg analyzed NCAA statistics from the past seven March Madness tournaments to give you pointers on how to make a winning bracket.

The Providence Friars (21-12) pulled off a 75-72 come-from-behind victory over No.3 Xavier in the semifinals. They combined for 25 points on 9-of-15 shooting in their first game ever at Madison Square Garden, the "Mecca of Basketball".

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