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COLLEGE BASKETBALL | PROVIDENCE 54, VILLANOVA 52

Late tip-in helps Providence beat another seeded foe, this time No. 10 Villanova

Providence's Nate Watson exults at Alumni Hall on campus after scoring during Saturday's upset of No. 10 Villanova.
Providence's Nate Watson exults at Alumni Hall on campus after scoring during Saturday's upset of No. 10 Villanova.Stew Milne/Associated Press

David Duke made a tiebreaking tip-in with 2.8 seconds left on Saturday and host Providence held on after blowing a 20-point lead to beat No. 10 Villanova, 54-52, in each team’s final game before the Big East tournament.

Jeremiah Robinson-Earl had an open look at a 3-pointer after a long inbounds pass, but the shot hit the front of the rim, and the buzzer sounded before Jermaine Samuels tipped it in.

Already without point guard Collin Gillespie, who tore his MCL on Wednesday, the Big East champion Wildcats lost backup Justin Moore to an ankle injury in the first half.

Duke and Nate Watson scored 20 points apiece, and Noah Horchler had 10 points and 13 rebounds for Providence (13-12, 9-10 Big East). The Friars have won five of their last seven games against ranked teams.

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Samuels scored 16 of his 21 points in the second half, making back-to-back layups to start a 14-2 run and adding the last five points of the rally that gave the Wildcats (16-5, 11-4) a 50-49 lead with less than three minutes left.

Duke made one of two free throws to tie it, and then sank a floater with just over a minute left to make it 52-50. After Samuels made a pair of free throws, Jared Bynum fired up a jumper that bounced off the rim, and Duke tipped it in.

Villanova coach Jay Wright called timeout, then changed his play after Providence called timeout. Robinson-Earl got free from the right side, but the ball bounced high off the rim and by the time Samuels got his hand on it, it was too late.

Robinson-Earl had 11 points and 13 rebounds for the Wildcats, who clinched the Big East regular-season title with a victory on Wednesday night.

PC led, 38-18, in the first before Villanova scored the first 11 points of the second. The Friars held a 47-36 advantage with nine minutes left before Samuels scored 9 points during the rally that gave the Wildcats their first lead since the opening basket of the game.

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Gillespie, who averaged 14 points and 4.6 assists, was on the bench in street clothes, wearing a large black brace on his left leg; Providence coach Ed Cooley came over to give him a quick hug before the game.

Moore started at point guard, but he left the game with 5:37 left in the first half after getting his legs tangled with Duke. He joined Gillespie on the bench for the second half, wearing a boot. The Wildcats could be down to their third-string point guard if Moore’s ankle injury is serious.