Daniel Ochefu inspires No. 3 Villanova's Big East semifinal win

Everett Merrill
12 Mar 2016

Daniel Ochefu scored just eight points in 15 minutes, but he played a key role in No. 3 Villanova's 76-68 win over Providence in the semifinals of the Big East Tournament on Friday night at Madison Square Garden.

The Wildcats (29-4) are headed to the title game for the second straight year and are bringing a limping Ochefu with them.

 Kris Jenkins led top-seeded Villanova with 21 points and Ryan Arcidiacono added 15 points to become the first player in Villanova history to score 1,500 or more points while logging 500 or more assists.

But it was the 6-foot-11 Ochefu who provided a spark when coach Jay Wright's team needed one the most. Ochefu suffered an ankle injury earlier in the week in practice and didn't start against Providence.

After being held scoreless in the first half, Ochefu responded with some energy in the second. With the Wildcats clinging to a 55-53 lead and its offense stalling, Ochefu restored order with a three-point play and a layup to boost the Villanova lead to 63-55 with 4:12 left.

Ochefu also nailed to free throws to make it 67-59 with 2:43 remaining.

"He (Ochefu) was in pain today," Villanova coach Jay Wright said. "We told, 'Daniel get out there and warm up. See how you feel.' And he said I want to try it.

"His adrenaline got going there in the second half and I think the pain went away."

Arcidiacono wasn't surprised by the injured Ochefu's contributions.

"I've seen it for four years," Arcidiacono said. "He's a tough guy. If he's on the floor, he's going to give it all he has.

"For him to make those plays is just big. He's a big-time player."

Rodney Bullock led fourth-seeded Providence (23-10) with 18 points.

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