It seems as though home can cure many of the ills that Providence College’s basketball team has experienced this season. Badly in need of a lift, the Friars held off a talented Seton Hall team, 65-61, on Saturday afternoon to improve to 12-7 overall and 2-4 in the Big East.
Entering the game, Providence was certainly beat up, physically as well as mentally, coming off a brutal end of game collapse that cost PC a win at DePaul on Tuesday. With the season in danger of slipping away, the Friars responded against a tough, deep Pirates squad that featured four juniors in the starting lineup and a ton of experience from a team that had won last year’s Big East Tournament.
An enthusiastic crowd of 9,253 welcomed Jalen Lindsey back to the fray. Lindsey had missed the DePaul game with a badly bruised left hand that happened late in the Creighton loss, and would gut out 29 minutes against the Hall, hand still heavily taped. “His hand was really swollen for four of five days,” said Ed Cooley. “It’s still swollen.” Also back at close to full speed was Kyron Cartwright. Noticeably slowed against the Blue Demons, Cartwright responded with 20 points and 8 assists in 37 minutes and looked world’s better.
For a short time in the first half, Friar fans actually were dreaming of a blowout. PC turned a 16-15 deficit into a 19-18 lead after a layup by Cartwright and a runout dunk by Kalif Young. At that point, with roughly 7 minutes to go in the half, the Friars used three pointers by Cartwright and Rodney Bullock, two more baskets by Cartwright and Bullock and two free throws by Isaiah Jackson to push the lead to 16, at 34-18 with 3:09 to play. The 15-0 run had come in a quick four-minute spurt.
Just as suddenly, PC went cold and Seton Hall closed the half on a 10-0 run over the last two minutes, keyed by two threes and 8 quick points by Desi Rodriguez. Providence forced bad shots and rushed shots to aid the Pirates cause and what had been a runaway was now a tight 34-28 game at the half.
For most of the second half, Providence maintained a 3-7 point lead, but was unable to pull away again as Seton Hall began finding the range and matching baskets. The Hall pulled within 2, at 50-48 on a Khadeen Carrington layup with 8:36 to play, but Alpha Diallo answered with a short jumper and the Friars opened a 57-50 lead on a short shot by Jalen Lindsey and a big three by Bullock with 4:56 to play.
Once again, visions of the DePaul game danced in fan’s heads as PC went cold on offense and the Pirates, on layups by Carrington, Angel Delgado and a three by Rodriguez rushed back to finally catch the Friars and knot the game at 57-all with 2:45 left. Emmitt Holt and Rodriguez traded layups and two free throws were matched by Rodriguez’ jumper with :50 to play.
On the play of the game, Cartwright nailed an off balance short pop and was fouled by Carrington. His free throw put PC up, 64-61 and Carrington rushed to the basket but missed a layup. Myles Powell rebounded and launched a three and when that missed, Bullock secured the rebound and was fouled with six seconds to play. His free throw sealed the gritty win for the Friars.
With the win, PC improves to 11-1 on the season at the Dunk. The Friars had stood tall in the face of adversity and emerged with a much-needed win. Of course, key shot making and a healthy dose of zone defense also played a huge part as Seton Hall was clearly frustrated by the zone.
Angel Delgado notched his 11th straight double-double, with 12 points and 16 rebounds, but he shot just 4-9 and didn’t get as many touches in good position as he usually does. Rodriguez was the primary pest with 20 points on 8-17 shooting and Carrington chipped in 13 on 6-14 shooting. The Pirates were limited to 8 trips to the foul line, but did dominate the glass, 39-29, including 14-4 on the offensive boards.
For the Friars, Bullock had a strong game with 22 points on 6-12 shooting, although he did have 6 turnovers. Cartwright had 20 and Holt scored 10 with 5 boards. Holt, Bullock and Young all took turns bodying Delgado, while Lindsey shadowed Rodriguez and Powell. While Lindsey scored just 5 points on 2-5 shooting, both were timely baskets and he also contributed two dribble drives resulting in beautiful passes for assists. PC shot 48% for the game, including 7-16 from three and had just 10 turnovers.
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It’s a quick turnaround for the Friars and back out onto the road as they visit Georgetown on Tuesday night for a 9 p.m. tip. Though Providence defeated the Hoyas last week at home, this would be a perfect time to grab that elusive road win.null