There were many fans who were admittedly worried that Providence would suffer a big game letdown after Saturday’s thrilling 63-60 win over archrival Rhode Island. After all, the atmosphere at the Dunk would be nowhere what it was three days earlier. Then there was also the fact that Ed Cooley was just 3-2 at PC against Brown and had lost at the Dunk two years ago with a very good, NCAA caliber team. And this Brown team could score the ball, averaging 77 points per game.
Those worries were put to rest very quickly. After Brandon Anderson opened the game with a three-pointer, the Friars ran off 20 straight points to, for all intents and purposes, put the game and the Bears away. Included in that 20-0 run were two desperate timeouts by Brown’s Mike Martin, but even those couldn’t stem the tide.
This season’s edition of Friars was just too big, too long and too athletic for Brown and, not only did they punish the Bruins inside, they also shot the hell out of the ball on this night. One thing about this Friar team that is becoming clear to Cooley and staff: they come to play. Letdowns are not a concern.
When a team establishes its reputation on defense, as this edition is doing, off nights are less likely. Defense tends to be a constant, whereas offense and shooting can fluctuate wildly. At times this year, as against Ohio State and Virginia, PC struggled to score, but those teams had elite athletes who played at a very high level. On the other hand, in an intense, emotional atmosphere, URI also played tough man defense, but PC hit shots. What can be inferred from this is that the PC offense is evolving and making major strides forward.
Against Brown, the Friars hit 65.6 percent of their shots in the first half, while racing out to a 50-18 halftime lead and the lead stayed comfortably in the 30’s for the entire second half. For the game, Providence shot 61.7 percent and at times in the second half, the shooting percentage hovered around 68 percent. Emmitt Holt scored 20 points and nailed his first 9 shots on the way to 9-10 shooting.
Providence flashed a balanced offensive attack, killing Brown with three-pointers and then pounding the smaller Bears inside. Led by Jalen Lindsey, who nailed 4-5 three-pointers on his way to 16 points, PC buried 14 for 27 threes, but also scored 42 points in the paint. Holt and Isaiah Jackson added two three-pointer apiece and nine different Friars in all knocked down threes.
Inside, Holt, Rodney Bullock and Kalif Young were too much to handle. Bullock scored 16 on an assortment of pretty moves around the rim and Young contributed 9 points and 6 boards. PC grabbed 12 offensive rebounds to keep possessions alive and the Friars’ length clearly bothered Brown.
Meanwhile, the Bears really struggled to score against PC’s tough man defense. Lindsey did a great job on Brown’s top threat, Steven Spieth, holding him to 5 points and 2 boards. Brown’s one avenue to success on offense, which they hit upon midway through the second half, was to attack the paint on dribble drives by their small, but quick, guards. Oli Okolie, in particular, had success attacking the rim and finished with 16 points, and Anderson and Tavon Blackmon also took turns driving the paint and either drawing fouls or dumping off to Travis Fuller for layups. Indeed, by game’s end, Holt and Young both had 4 fouls, along with Alpha Diallo.
But one of the true joys of this season has been the blossoming of Lindsey. Playing with confidence, his all-around game and elite defensive ability is now being supported by a much-improved offensive game that includes improved ballhandling skills. His work is evident. In fact, the Brown game gave Cooley the opportunity to get a lot of much-needed minutes for Diallo, Young, Maliek White, Drew Edwards and others.
96 Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE
The Friars now have a few days before they match up with the University of Massachusetts for a noon tipoff at the Dunk on Saturday.