Second Half Rally Falls Short

Providence traveled to Boston to take on the Boston College Eagles, fell behind early, and let a winnable game slip through their fingers, as the Friars fell 81-76. With the loss, PC also lost its last chance to capture a quality non-conference win.

The weather in New England was frigid after a heavy snowfall on Saturday, and the shooting in the Conte Forum wasn't much warmer. In Providence's first official road game of the season, the Friars once again struggled to shoot the ball. Quick three pointers by senior star Tyrece Rice and Rakim Sanders sparked an early 8-5 lead for the Eagles, and Boston College continually hurt PC on the offensive glass.

BC extended their lead over the cold Friars to 16-7 and 20-10 before a Jonathan Kale baby hook snapped an Eagle run. Despite PC's three quarter court pressure, Rice was getting into the lane at will and Vermont transfer Joe Trapani was killing the Friars both inside and out.

Providence attempted to press on made baskets, but, unfortunately, wasn't making many. Meanwhile, the BC flex offense saw the Eagles repeatedly finding open shooters on the baseline. With BC shredding the Friar zone, the Eagles opened a 27-18 lead before Jeff Xavier knocked down a three. Just as Boston College looked to be tiring, Marshon Brooks picked up his third foul on a very questionable call, and Trapani scored at the end of the shot clock on a baseline pop. An Xavier driving layup snapped a 6-0 BC run, but the Eagles closed the half with a 35-26 lead.

"I think our defensive effort was there," said Keno Davis. "We struggled early and got down ten, but we picked it up after that." Providence had shot horribly in the first half, missing numerous layup chances and long range bombs. Between them, Geoff McDermott and Weyinmi Efejuku had shot 0-7 in the first half, while PC hit just 2-8 threes. Efejuku and Brooks were scoreless. Meanwhile, Boston College, which came into the game averaging 17 three point attempts per game, had already attempted 18 three pointers in the first half.

As has been the custom, Providence came out to start the second half with more fire. An inbounds alley-oop lob to McDermott for a slam narrowed the deficit to 35-30, but BC scored easily on transition drives. Efejuku began to assert himself and converted on a pretty drive resulting in a baseline slam, but Trapani answered with a three to make it 42-33. Successive baskets by Efejuku keyed a 7-0 Friar run that got PC to within 42-40, but Trapani again nailed a top of the key three. A Corey Raji bucket and a Rice layup off a Trapani block of Kale pushed the lead back to nine. After three point misses by Efejuku and Sharaud Curry, Xavier's three trimmed the lead to 57-49.

Again Boston College answered. Tyler Roche knocked down a three, and Rice sliced through PC's pressure to repeatedly get the ball to the middle of the court. McDermott was kneed in the head on a layup attempt, and when no foul was called, Keno Davis drew a technical foul with 5:19 left. Down 64-51, the Friars began to foul right away with four minutes to play.

When Friar tormentor Joe Trapani (18 points, 6-10 shooting) fouled out with three and a half minutes to play, PC had one final chance. Trailing 70-59, Marshon Brooks grabbed a missed free throw and nailed a layup, and a steal led to a Brooks dunk. After a BC miss, Brian McKenzie rushed a three, but Roche hit just one of two freebies and Xavier drove for a layup that made it 72-66 with 2:08 left. A Raji layup was followed by a 360-degree, twisting Brooks layup. After traded baskets, Biko Paris missed two free throws, and Efejuku converted two free throws to make it 76-72. Then freshman Reggie Jackson whiffed on two free throws, and Brooks buried two of his own to trim the lead to 76-74 with thirty-one seconds remaining. The Friars were charging, and the Eagles were clearly hanging on for dear life.

After center Josh Southern hit one free throw, the defining play of the game would present itself. Geoff McDermott drove the lane and fed Brian McKenzie for a wide open layup… that McKenzie missed. McDermott went up for the rebound and attempted a put-back, but missed also, and Southern cleared the rebound and was fouled with ten seconds left. The center nailed both free throws, and when Southern blocked Curry on a drive to the hoop, he was fouled again and hit two more free throws to put away the game.

Providence had shot itself in the foot, without doubt. The Friars missed somewhere in the vicinity of twenty layups in the game, and the final two proved fatal. Missed layups, struggles at the line, and continued poor three point shooting. PC outrebounded BC 39-31, but shot just 37% from the field, and hit just 3-17 threes in the game. Even the normally reliable from the charity stripe Xavier missed two free throws down the stretch. PC scored 50 second half points, but did so while shooting poorly and never could get over the hump against BC after digging early holes.

Rice led all scorers with 20 points and had 7 assists but also 7 turnovers. Trapani had 18, while Raji finished with 10 before fouling out late in the game. Rakim Sanders chipped in with 7 points before he also fouled out late and Southern had 9. For PC, Xavier had 16 points, while Efejuku and Brooks each had 13 points, both scoring all of them in the second half. McDermott had 8 points and 11 rebounds, and Randall Hanke had 9 points and Kale 8. Once again McKenzie was ineffective and Curry was very quiet.

With the loss, PC drops to 7-4, and will take on Bryant University on Monday at the Dunk, in the final non-conference game of the season. Even with a win, PC will enter the Big East portion of the schedule without a marquee out of conference win, and with a feeling that November and December could have been a whole lot better.

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