PHILADELPHIA (AP) -Scottie Reynolds and Corey Fisher scored 22 points each and No. 4 Villanova pulled away late to beat pesky Providence 92-81 on Saturday.
The Wildcats (22-2, 11-1 Big East) moved into a tie with Syracuse atop the Big East standings. Villanova would be alone in first if the second-ranked Orange lose Sunday against Louisville.
Providence (12-13, 4-9) had its second win over a Top 25 in sight until two costly fouls were called on Sharaud Curry with 8 minutes left. Curry fouled Reynolds and snapped at the referee - a personal and a technical that gave him five fouls and sent Reynolds to the line for four shots.
Reynolds made three of them for a 67-60 lead. With Curry, who had 19 points, out of the game the Friars had no serious runs left.
Antonio Pena had 15 points and 12 rebounds for the Wildcats, who split their last two games against top 10 teams. Villanova started flat against a Providence team in the lower half of the Big East standings. They were sloppy with the ball, committing six turnovers only 8 minutes into the game, and let Providence hang around for most of the half.
The Friars are in the midst of a brutal stretch of their schedule. They lost by nine points to No. 7 Georgetown, then Villanova, and the next two games are against No. 5 West Virginia and Syracuse.
About their only consolation is the next two games are at home.
Vincent Council scored 21 points and Jamine Peterson had 19 for the Friars.
Peterson kept the Friars within two points on a 3-pointer midway through the second half. If Providence thought it could pull the shocker at the Wachovia Center, the Wildcats had to know one of their usual game-changing runs was ahead.
Reynolds, as he's apt to do, waited until the second half to hit a string of big baskets. His tying 3-pointer and pull-up jumper at the free throw line made it 51-49. He made two free throws for a 53-51 lead, then tossed up a one-handed layup from under the basket for a 56-53 lead.
Reynolds and Fisher made 16 of 29 shots from the field and combined for seven assists.
The Wildcats' record is the envy of most teams, but they're falling into a dangerous pattern of so-so starts while waiting for Reynolds to take over and turn a close game into a double-digit victory.
That works against Seton Hall and Providence, but it could spell trouble in games ahead with Syracuse, No. 25 Pittsburgh and West Virginia.
Curry scored 11 points as Providence stayed within 40-35 at halftime.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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