The first two times Villanova lost this season, the Wildcats responded with hard-fought overtime wins on the road against Butler and Marquette.
On Tuesday night, following another blowout loss at the hands of Creighton, Jay Wright's squad did it again in someone else's house.
Ryan Arcidiacono led the balanced Wildcats offense with 21 points and converted on his third chance for a game-winner, putting away Bryce Cotton and Providence, 82-79, in a thrilling double-overtime battle at the Dunkin' Donuts Center.
Ryan Arcidiacono plays the hero! Hits lay-up and one with 3.6 secs left in double OT for the 82-79 win. No. 9 Nova survives at Providence.— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) February 19, 2014
JayVaughn Pinkston added 20, and all of Villanova's starters scored in double figures, but during every critical moment late, the ball was in Arcidiacono's hands.
In regulation, he missed a three-point attempt with eight seconds remaining after LaDontae Henton tied the game at 63 on the previous possession. In overtime, he got a much easier chance but missed a layup with six seconds to go after Cotton had tied it up at 72.
CBS Sports' Doug Gottlieb put it simply:
Archidiacano missed a dead lay-up... Gotta make those #Nova— Doug Gottlieb (@GottliebShow) February 19, 2014
But the third time would be the charm. With the game knotted at 79 in double overtime, Arciadacono found a free lane to the hoop and converted despite drawing the foul. After he finished the three-point play, Henton got a good look on the other end but saw his three bounce off.
As ESPN's Eamonn Brennan noted, the ending only added to the heartbreak for Providence:
That is a heartbreaking loss and a heartbreaking WAY to lose. Yikes.— Eamonn Brennan (@eamonnbrennan) February 19, 2014
This one is going to be difficult to swallow for Ed Cooley and his team for a variety of reasons.
First, they wasted a brilliant effort from Cotton, who scored 22 points to go with seven rebounds and nine assists. The senior, who remains one of the more underrated players in college basketball, hit some crucial free throws near the end of regulation, converted on a dazzling drive to the hoop to tie the game late in the first overtime and tied the game once again with a clutch three in the second overtime.
There was nothing else he could have done, as CBS Sports' Jon Rothstein offered up extremely high praise:
Not sure there's a player in America that means as much to their team as Bryce Cotton means to Providence. Does everything for the Friars.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) February 19, 2014
Second, this one also hurts Providence in terms of their NCAA tournament chances.
Will Providence make the NCAA tournament?
Not only would this have been a massive resume booster, but the Friars have also now lost five of their last seven, sit at 17-10 overall and have three of their last four games on the road.
They have work to do down the stretch.
As for Villanova, who has four of its last five at home, the scintillating victory keeps them in line with Creighton in the two-team race for the Big East regular-season title.
And if they happen to lose sometime during that span, it's safe to say they have the fortitude to bounce back even in the toughest conditions.