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Villanova edges Providence to advance to Big East final

Mar 14, 2015 - 4:13 AM New York, NY ( - Ryan Arcidiacono made two free throws after a controversial foul call with 3.1 seconds left, and No. 4 Villanova prevailed against Providence 63-61 to advance to the final of the Big East Tournament.

Villanova led for most of the second half until a late turnover led to Kris Dunn's layup that tied the score with 12.4 seconds left.

Out of a timeout, Arcidiacono drove to the basket against Providence big man Ben Bentil, who was whistled for a foul despite very little contact. Arcidiacono calmly hit both free throws, and LaDontae Henton bricked a deep 3- pointer as time expired at the other end.

Daniel Ochefu carried the Wildcats (31-2) for most of the night, finishing with 15 points, 13 rebounds and five blocks. Josh Hart added 18 points off the bench, and Darrun Hilliard scored 12 before fouling out.

Villanova will meet Xavier in Saturday's final.

Dunn's Herculean effort wasn't enough for the Friars (22-11). The sophomore finished with 22 points, nine assists and seven rebounds in the loss.

Providence trailed by 13 just before the midpoint of the second half before mounting its comeback. Dunn found Carson Desrosiers for a three-point play, then canned a jumper before the under-12 timeout to spark the flurry.

The lead hovered between two and seven the rest of the way. It was 61-59 late when Jalen Lindsey knocked the ball loose from Hart on an inbounds pass under Villanova's basket. Bentil picked up the loose ball and fed Dunn for the game- tying layup.

Earlier, Hart's 3-pointer just before the final media timeout of the first half gave 'Nova a 31-20 advantage. But Providence closed the half on an 8-2 run and opened the second strong to pull back within three, 36-33.

The Wildcats answered and tilted momentum back in their favor. Dylan Ennis followed an Ochefu dunk nearly four minutes into the second half to make it 41-33. Then after Bentil split a pair of free throws, Hart potted a pull-up jumper and Kris Jenkins hit from deep to push the margin to 12.

Game Notes

Dunn and Arcidiacono were co-Big East Players of the Year ... Villanova hasn't lost since Jan. 19 to Georgetown ... Villanova won all three meetings this season.