PROVIDENCE, R.I. - The sky appeared to be falling for Villanova last night at the Dunkin' Donuts Center. Providence was raining three-point baskets and its student section was raining noise and insults as the Wildcats tried to hold on to a lead that twice had reached 20 points.
But the 17th-ranked Wildcats managed to keep their composure just long enough amid the frenetic final minutes to escape with a 94-91 Big East Conference victory over the Friars, their fourth straight win.
Scottie Reynolds, who went 13 of 15 from the free-throw line, was the steadiest Wildcat, scoring 31 points, his biggest output since his 40-point night Jan. 6 at Seton Hall. Four other Villanova players scored in double figures, led by Dwayne Anderson's 19.
This wasn't easy, however. The Wildcats (18-4 overall, 6-3 Big East) carried a 49-34 lead into the locker room at halftime and led by 62-42 after Reynolds knocked down a three-pointer with 14 minutes, 29 seconds to play.
But with 'Nova holding a 69-50 lead at the 11-minute mark, things started to tilt toward the Friars (14-8, 6-4).
In the second half, Providence scored 57 points. The Wildcats had allowed their last three opponents to average 56 points - for an entire game. The Friars drained eight three-point baskets in the final 11 minutes.
"It certainly wasn't pretty," said Villanova coach Jay Wright. "I'd like to think that a team with seniors, an experienced team, that gets a big lead could handle it better. But give Providence credit. They battled. And give our guys credit because of their will. Hey, it's a Big East game. You take it and you go home."
Anderson, who also contributed 10 rebounds and five steals, said the Wildcats hurt themselves by not staying aggressive when they got the big lead.
"As an older group, when you get a lead like that, you have to attack for 40 minutes, and we let up a little bit," he said. "You can't let up because if the game is close at the end, it may not come out your way. We got lucky at the end and got away with this one."
A key moment for the Wildcats during the Friars' comeback was when sophomore Corey Fisher fouled out with 8:34 to play after playing only 16 minutes. Fisher scored 12 points, 10 in the first half.
The Friars closed the deficit to eight points at the seven-minute mark. Jeff Xavier's three-point basket made it a six-point game with five minutes to play. Jonathan Kale's follow-up basket got it to five (82-77) with 53.2 seconds left.
Reggie Redding provided an important defensive play after Kale's basket. He committed a turnover on the inbounds pass, but he hustled underneath to block Kale's layup, a swat that resulted in a layup by Reynolds at the other end that made it 86-79 with 34 seconds to play.
Still, Providence wasn't finished. Back-to-back three-balls by Sharaud Curry (25 points) made it a one-possession game at 90-87 with 14 seconds to play. After two free throws by Anderson, Kale made one free throw and missed the second. The Friars got the offensive rebound, and Weyinmi Efejuku drained a trey with 2 seconds left to make it 92-91.
Reynolds hit his last two free throws at the 1.1-second mark and Anderson swatted away Providence's final desperation inbounds pass to end it.
"It was unbelievable," Wright said. "They made as many great plays as we made stupid plays. But you're on the road and this place gets crazy. I'm proud of our guys."
Anderson was one of three Villanova players with a double-double. Both Redding and Dante Cunningham had 12 points and 11 rebounds.