The three-point shooting form exhibited by Villanova’s Eric Paschall may not be as fluid as that of Steph Curry or Kyle Korver. He jumps higher in the air that almost any distance shooter in college basketball, and he kicks his legs behind him -- not really a method that most coaches would teach.
But Jay Wright and the Wildcats like his style just fine, especially on Wednesday night. Paschall scored 20 of his 25 points in the second half, including four three-point baskets in five shots, spurring a late surge that carried the 13th-ranked Cats to an 85-67 win over Providence at Finneran Pavilion.
The Wildcats (20-5, 11-1 Big East), rebounding from a one-point loss Saturday against No. 10 Marquette, trailed, 55-53, midway through the second half, and led by only one point with eight minutes remaining, before using a 15-2 run to put the game away.
Paschall’s fifth and final three-point basket of the game ended the run, with Villanova leading, 77-63, with 3 minutes, 22 seconds to play. It was a strong night for the 6-foot-8 senior, who shot 10 of 13 from the field and began the half by beating the Friars (14-11, 4-8) off the dribble twice in the Cats’ first three possessions, then warmed up from deep.
Wright used former Los Angeles Lakers great Jamaal Wilkes to compare styles.
“He used to do a lot of crazy things,” the Villanova coach said, “but by the time he released the ball, his elbow was perfectly straight, it was a perfect release. [Paschall] doesn’t do that, but he jumps so high. … You rarely see guys jump that high that are good shooters, but if you look at his elbow and his form, it’s perfect.”
Because Paschall jumps so high, he’s often fouled on the bottom of his elbow, Wright said.
“No one else does that, so refs aren’t used to seeing that,” he said. “They realize what happened afterward, because they never see it.”
The Friars, the Big East leaders in three-point defense, limited the Wildcats to just three treys in the first half, and only three – all by Paschall – in the first 12 minutes of the second half. In that time, they took advantage of a rash of foul calls against Villanova, including four personals on one possession, that put them in the bonus and helped them take the lead.
Providence drained six straight free throws in a 10-0 run that produced a two-point lead with 10:31 remaining.
“You get fouls called against you consecutively … you could lose your composure there, and I was really proud of our guys,” Wright said. “It really starts with Eric and Phil [Booth]. They keep everybody together, and we came out of that and slowly built a lead, rather than letting it be the turning point in the game.”
Leading 62-61, the Wildcats’ decisive 15-2 run began on a Paschall drive and ended on Paschall’s three-ball that made it 77-63 with 3:22 to play.
“Coach always tells me to be aggressive and make the right play, and that’s what I try to do,” Paschall said. “My teammates found me."
Villanova, which got 22 points from Booth, shot 63 percent from the field in the second half and 51.9 percent in the game. The Friars, who made just one field goal in the final eight minutes, were limited to 42.1 shooting for the game. Nate Watson led the visitors with 18 points.