On a senior night where an already two-time All-American forward was going for his 3,000th point milestone, going undefeated at home for the season, and being the highest-sold game in the history of the school, the Creighton Bluejays came out red-hot and ready for everything that Providence had to offer. The Friars struggled in the beginning and, while they found their footing in the second half, couldn't match pace with what was destined to be a special night for Creighton. The Friars fell, 88-73, finishing their regular season at 20-11.
After a quick layup by Doug McDermott to start the game, Providence's own LaDontae Henton hit a three pointer to put the Friars up, 3-2. While this would be the only time the Friars led during the game, the first six minutes of the game were played in close competition. Despite two early fouls on Bryce Cotton the senior guard was able to stay composed and remain locked down on defense. The struggles that Providence faced, however, were not on the defensive end but on the offensive. The Friars couldn't buy a bucket, going 3-8 from the field to open the game and picking up four quick team fouls.
At the 14:41 mark, with a 10-7 scoreboard favoring the Bluejays, McDermott made a layup that would ignite a 32 to 9 run which would last until the 4:38 mark. During that time, Providence shot a woeful 4-15 from the field, while Creighton was 12-15 during the same time span, including going a perfect 10-10 from 14:41 to 8:14.
Things were looking ugly for the Friars. Down 40-18, Providence was able to slow down the Bluejays, but couldn't get their offense going. Every shot put up was met by a Creighton defensive rebound, and Bryce Cotton – who would go scoreless in the first half – was struggling with what appeared to be a knee injury. While Providence was able to get some scoring done with the remaining time on the clock it did little to break through the large lead that Creighton had built up, and Providence closed the half down 45-22. McDermott lead the scoring of both teams in the first half with 22 points all by himself.
The beginning of the second half saw a more complete Providence team. The Friars opened the second half with Henton converting on a layup attempt, and minutes later converting on two free throws. Cotton, who had been silenced in the first half, got his first bucket of the game with 18:16 to go, followed by a three pointer 13 seconds later. The Friars were within 20 at 51-31, and were finally seeing their fight convert into results.
With some clutch free throw shooting from Henton and Cotton the Friars managed to narrow the gap to 15, at 53-38. The Friars wouldn't get closer than this. The stadium was boiling with anticipation for Doug McDermott's 3,000th point. Providence's foul struggles continued with Carson Desrosiers picking up a technical foul which allowed McDermott to convert on both free throws at 12:23. With 11:29 left in the game McDermott hit a three pointer that would put him over 3,000.
The arena erupted in cheers so loud they could be heard in Iowa.
Josh Fortune answered with a three of his own, but it did little to silence the crowd or change the momentum. The Friars were down 20 and the Friars were losing composure. Providence had some answers from the free throw line and on second chance opportunities, but the gap remained near impossible to overcome. Things just weren't going the Friars way. Tyler Harris would make a second chance opportunity shot, only to pick up his fifth and final foul with 10 minutes left on the game clock. Bryce Cotton would miss two in a row only to have McDermott convert on the other end of the floor. Henton would miss the front end of a one-and-one that the Friars desperately needed.
With 6:45 left, Fortune made a steal and hit a jumper and then converted on two free throws that would begin to close an intitally-23 point gap for the Friars, but the game was too far gone by that point. The Friars played out the remainder of the game by showing that if they were going to go down, they were going to do it swinging. Creighton answered almost every point Providence scored during this period, but the Friars managed to finish the game coming within 15 points, refusing to let up until the last possession.
With this loss the Friars claimed fourth in the Big East. At the beginning of the season the Friars were picked to finish sixth, and that was with a projected Rookie of the Year, more help in the frontcourt, and a McDonald's All-American point guard in the lineup. The Friars now enter the Big East Tournament with a matchup against St. John's, a team the Friars have gone 1-1 against this season. NCAA hopes are on the line as the Friars march to the Garden on Thursday afternoon.
BlueJays Soar Over Providence
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