Wild Comeback Falls Short

With six minutes left in their season, the Providence Friars were on the verge of ending their season on the sourest of notes. Instead, a surprisingly effective full court press, some good execution, and shaky play from Seton Hall brought the Friars within one missed Duke Mondy three pointer from overtime and a possible miracle comeback.

They were down 24 points with a little over six minutes to go, and it appeared like it would be garbage time down the stretch. The Friars had other ideas though, and slapped a full court press on Seton Hall that not only worked wonders for their defense, it also had the Pirates holding their collective breath as Duke Mondy launched a three point attempt to try and send the game to overtime. The Pirates had won, but it took 109 points to hold off the Friars who put up 106 themselves, including a mind boggling 67 points in the second half. Every writer in the Garden had to rewrite their story after such a wild finish.

In the first half, the Friars came out in their matchup zone while Seton played man to man. After some early turnovers by both teams, (5 each in first four minutes) the teams began trading baskets with Greedy Peterson leading the way for Providence. At the under 16 time out, the Friars had a slim lead at 9-7. James Still came into the game and worked hard to spell Bilal Dixon and Jamine Peterson, but the Pirates began getting second chance opportunities, with 10 offensive rebounds in the first 9 minutes.

The Seton Hall offense is at its best when it is getting layups on dishes from penetration and transition threes. Sound familiar? They are also team that thrives in the uptempo style, much like the Friars. No Pirate seemed to enjoy the fast pace of the game more than Jordan Theodore, who was dishing for easy baskets throughout the game. The Friars were working a harder for baskets but, Greedy Peterson carried the Friars early, and at the 8:30 mark of the first half, Providence was only down 25-22. That was last time Providence would be close until the final two minutes of the game.

Seton Hall began keying on Greedy Peterson, and after a few transition fast break baskets, the Friars were quickly down six at the 7 minute mark. Things would only go from bad to worse as Herb Pope came alive both inside and out, (18 first half pts) and Jordan Theodore began putting on a show with his three point shot and dishes for easy assists. Sharaud Curry was very tentative for Providence in the first half and was nearly invisible for the first 20 minutes with only three points.

The first half would end very badly for Providence. The Seton Hall lead ballooned to 42-32 at the 3:16 mark, and after a couple more Pirate threes, the Friars would go into halftime down 55-39 and facing a daunting 16 point deficit.

The second half got off to just as bad a start. Providence was down 20 in first minute and Keno Davis' frustration bubbled over and he was given a tech by Jim Burr. 63-39 when a foul on Hazell with technical gave the Friars a chance for a little momentum but they only got a point out of it. It was that sort of day. The Friars were taking some good shots off penetration, but not making many. Meanwhile, Seton Hall was playing loose and running with a 68-42 at the under 16 timeout. The Pirate lead would peak at a shocking 29 points, a total indictment of the Friars porous defense that has been their undoing all year.

Seton Hall began to slow the pace at this point, and it didn't do them any favors. The Pirate offense began to stall and the Friars cut the lead to 21 at the 12 minute mark as the Friars got the transition game going themselves. The teams really began trading baskets at that point, with Greedy Peterson being the one Friar who the Pirates simply had no answer for. Peterson put up a ridiculous 38 points in this one, a Friar record in the Big East Tournament. What is encouraging about Peterson's game recently is that he's settling much less for the three point shot and going to the basket more. His work along with other Friars cut the lead to 84-67 at the 9 minute mark, the first time the deficit was under 20 since the 19 minute mark. The teams began trading baskets again, and it seemed by the 7 minute mark the Friar mini -comeback was running out of gas.

Amazingly though, Seton Hall fell asleep in the last few minutes and the Friars were able to employ an unusually effective full court press to cut the Pirate lead to 10 with 2:31 to go. Of course, it still wasn't much consolation to Friar fans, who saw the Pirates easily exceed the 100 point mark on Providence. But that wasn't the end. Seton Hall kept turning it over, and both Sharaud Curry and Bilal Dixon came up big in the last two minutes along with the ball handling of Vincent Council. Some awful foul shooting by Seton Hall set up the last second bid by Mondy that didn't go down.

Make no mistake, this game was not Providence's finest losing performance of the year. That distinction goes to the Pitt game, probably a few others as well. For about twenty minutes of this game, Seton Hall thoroughly dominated the Friars, and that was a combination of PC's just awfully poor defense and some great shooting by the Pirates. The key is that the Friars never game up, and showed a lot of heart coming back which takes a lot of the sting out this loss. That is something to build on over the offseason.

ScoutFriars.com will evaluate the season as a whole very soon in an upcoming article, but the overriding question of this year was, how good could this Friar team really be if they just played average defense? The answer to that is pretty good, even in a conference as good as the Big East, and that should motivate the returning Friar players to completely dedicate themselves to raising their game and particularly their defense over this off season.

Scout Friars Top Stories