VILLANOVA, Pa. (AP) Eric Paschall scored 20 of his 25 points in the second half and No. 13 Villanova rebounded from its first Big East loss by running away from Providence 85-67 on Wednesday night.
Fellow senior Phil Booth added 22 for the Wildcats (20-5, 11-1), who were fresh off a one-point loss to No. 10 Marquette after getting off to a program best 10-0 start in league play.
Nate Watson led Providence (14-11, 4-8) with 18 points. The Friars have lost four of their last five but were coming off an impressive 14-point road win at St. John's on Saturday.
After two straight 3-pointers from Paschall put Villanova ahead 53-45 early in the second half, Providence scored the next 10 points, culminating with a steal and acrobatic reverse layup from Maliek White, to take a 55-53 lead with 10:29 remaining.
But Paschall delivered two more big threes - right in front of the 'Nova bench - to help the Wildcats close the game on a 23-6 run. Underclassmen Saddiq Bey and Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree helped seal the win with a 3-pointer and three-point play during the decisive spurt.
Pashcall shot 10 for 13 from the field and 5 for 6 from 3-point range. Cosby-Roundtree finished with 12 points and didn't miss a shot from the field (4 for 4) or the foul line (4 for 4).
Providence junior Alpha Diallo, the eighth leading scorer and top rebounder in the Big East, was held scoreless until an emphatic dunk and three-point play with 1:38 left in the first half followed by a 3-pointer with 2.5 seconds left.
But fueled by perfect 14-for-14 free throw shooting in the first half, the Wildcats led 39-34 at halftime.
Diallo finished with 11 points and seven rebounds while committing five turnovers.
Providence: The Friars, who have made the NCAA Tournament and won at least 20 games in each of the last five seasons, continue to struggle to gain traction in the crowded conference. They rank last in the league in scoring offense.
Villanova: The Wildcats have a one-game lead on Marquette for first place in the Big East while no other team in the league even has a winning record. Villanova won the first four regular-season championships of the revamped Big East before Xavier took the title last season.
Providence begins a three-game home stretch vs. Xavier on Saturday afternoon.
Villanova plays the first of three straight games on the road at St. John's on Sunday evening.
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