PC Edged at Ryan Center

A Friar team losing at URI Saturday by the score 86-82 didn't surprise that many people given that the Rams were a home favorite with more experience. What was surprising was that Providence had a sixteen point lead early in the second half before ultimately coming up short.

It goes without saying that the Ryan Center is an extremely hostile place to win when Providence College shows up as the opponent. The Rams are as about as hyped up as they get playing a home game vs the Friars, and PC hasn't won in the building in four tries now. However, this was Keno Davis' first attempt to win at the Ryan, and things looked great, at least for a half. The Friars were up 49-35 at halftime, and out rebounded URI by 10 in the first 20 minutes, seemingly unaffected by the URI home court. But it was a bit premature to pencil in a win.

Rhode Island had foul problems in the first half with Will Martell and Keith Cothran, which really bogged down the Rhody offense and ability to get offensive rebounds and baskets. PC had their own foul troubles with Marshon Brooks who missed nearly the entire half, but it didn't affect them adversely at all. Instead Providence generally limited URI to one shot (usually from outside) each trip down the floor and got out on the break effectively. Big first halves by seniors Sharaud Curry, Brian McKenzie and sophomore Greedy Peterson led the way for Providence. Providence lead 49-35 at the break.

Providence briefly led by 16 early in the 2nd half, but the problems for Providence started almost immediately once Martel and Cothran were inserted back in to the game. The senior Cothran and junior Martel immediately went to work and shaved the Providence lead to10 by the 15-11 mark. Delray James also shook off a poor first half started getting involved for baskets as well. Providence stopped the bleeding once it got down to a six point lead, and maintained a six point edge until the 11:24 mark.

Besides URI's offense rebounding and offense jump starting, Providence received no boost from the reinsertion of Marshon Brooks in the second half. The junior is relied on to be a leader on the team, and had one of his worst games at a Friar. Some of that had to do with the solid defense of Lamont Ulmer, but Brooks was clearly out of sync going 1-7 from the field on the day with only 1 rebound. He was slow with his decision making, and off with his shot. He also got beat on a play which forced Bilal Dixon to help out on the baseline, causing him to pick up a critical 4th foul at 11:24 mark with Providence still leading by six at 61-55. This was a critical point in the game as Providence went small and really began to struggle on the glass. From the 7:34 mark on with PC only up 2, it would be a real dogfight for the victory.

Missing their only post up player out until the four minute mark was not Providence's only problem. Sharaud Curry missed a number of three point shots, McKenzie did not take a another shot in the game after his big 1st half, and Brooks continued to struggle save for a one big four point play. It was really up to freshman Vincent Council to carry the team, penetrating for baskets or dishing to Greedy Peterson for hoops. Council almost singlehandedly kept the Friars in the in the game late scoring 16 points in the contest, pulling down 6 rebounds, and dishing out six assists. The freshman did have commit five turnovers, but he had to create most of the offense and played nearly 30 minutes under intense defensive pressure. Providence's last lead was at the 3:11 mark on two Council free throws.

Down the stretch, Brooks tried once again to go one on one for hoop, only to get stripped like he has in other contests early this year. Curry also tried a late three that didn't go down. URI made some key free throws, (Cothran hit four in the last minute), and Marques Jones made a critical pull up jumper to put URI up 4 with 26 seconds left. Providence did cut the lead to two on a couple Curry free throws, but a technical foul on Jamine Peterson with 6 seconds left (hitting the ball while being inbounded by URI) put any doubt about the outcome to rest. The Rams went up four with the ball and ran out the clock, winning 86-82.

Providence has to rebound to get their transition game going in order to win games; either that or they have to shoot lights out. The latter won't happen often, and certainly not for an entire game. The Friars didn't shoot lights out in this game, but they wisely got a lot of easy or good looking shot opportunities in the first half due to their rebounding and finishing well. That inflated their first half shooting percentage shooting percentage to a gaudy 57.6%. The huge lead was a bit of fools gold though, given the URI foul situation in the first half. Fouls on Dixon turned the tide the other way in the second half.

The game was lost because Providence doesn't have enough game ready front court players or much a post up game right now. Had Dixon be able to play closer to 30 minutes instead of only 21, the outcome may have been different. The poor shooting from Marshon Brooks and second half misses from long range by Curry contributed to the loss, but the hole in the front court which allowed URI to out rebound Providence 26-19 in the 2nd half after being down 10 in rebounds in the first 20 minutes really was the biggest contributing factor.

Losing the turnover battle 19-9 didn't help the cause either. It also seems from Keno Davis' press conference that Brooks has lost his green light for the time being for one-on-one opportunities in crunch time. Keno implied that he'll likely have Council calling those shots in late game situations next time the Friars are in a tight spot.

Providence has little time to reflect much on the missed opportunity at URI, as they host crosstown Ivy League foe Brown Monday night at 7 p.m.

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