Orange Fall To Friars

Three-point shooting was once again the key for the No. 23/23 Providence Friars as they handed No. 18/20 Syracuse its second consecutive loss while snapping their own two game losing skid, 74-61. It was the Orangemen's fourth loss in five games. <br><br>

After shooting just 1-for-7 from the arc in the first half, the Friars (15-5, 6-3) used hot three-point shooting to close the deal in the second half. With 12:45 remaining and the Friars leading by nine, guards Donnie McGrath and Skieku Kabba took turns burying consecutive three-pointers on a 12-2 run expanding the lead to 55-36.

The Friars stretched the lead to 20, 67-47 with five minutes remaining, before Syracuse closed the gap to nine, 67-58 after Gerry McNamara's three with 2:23 remaining capped an 11-0 run. McNamara fouled out on the next play, however, and Providence went on a 7-0 run to ensure the victory.

Providence hit nine shots from downtown in the second half, shooting 10-for-25 from deep in the game, showcasing why they shoot more threes than any other team in the conference.

The Orangemen (14-5, 4-4), tops in the conference in opponent three-point shooting coming into the game, defended the three well in the first half, but not in the second, forcing them to get out of the 2-3 zone and play man-to-man.

Providence's defense, a combination of zone and man during different stretches, baffled the Orangemen offense. They shot just 37 percent in the first half and 41.7 percent for the game on 25-for-60 shooting. What's misleading about those percentages is who was making the shots.

Demetris Nichols, a Barrington, Rhode Island native, led the way for the Orangemen shooting 7-for-14 on his way to a career-high 17 points, 13 coming in the second half, and pulling down seven rebounds. Craig Forth notched 10 first half points on his way to 12 for the game on 6-of-9 shooting. Forth grabbed six boards. Nichols and Forth came in averaging 3.8 and 5.1 ppg respectively.

Meanwhile, Syracuse's stars, Hakim Warrick and Gerry McNamara, struggled throughout the game. McNamara was limited due to foul trouble in the second half and shot 3-for-8 for nine points in just 29 minutes. McNamara, entering the game averaging 16.6 ppg, has scored in single-digits in four of Syracuse's five losses this season.

Warrick, who had been consistent all season averaging 19.8 ppg, failed to score in the first half and ended up with just 10 points and grabbed 10 boards. He shot just 4-for-14 from the floor and seemed frustrated against Providence's defense, which ranks second in the conference allowing just 63.2 ppg.

Billy Edelin, returning to action after missing two games, played 23 minutes and scored five points, three coming off a meaningless three-point shot at the end of the game.

Unlike the Orangemen who are lost without their stars playing well, Providence had no problem making up for poor production from their star, Ryan Gomes. Gomes, averaging 19.9 ppg and 9.9 rpg, scored 12 points on 3-of-10 shooting and grabbed just 5 boards.

In the absence of Gomes' production, point guard Donnie McGrath stepped up in the second half knocking down four three-pointers en route to a 14 point second half. He finished with 16, tied with center Marcus Douthit, a Syracuse native, for Providence's top scorers. Douthit also grabbed 11 rebounds.

The Friars had five players in double figures (Kabba 14, Dwight Brewington 10) in their first victory at home against Syracuse in 10 years.

Syracuse hosts Rutgers on Tuesday, while Providence visits Villanova on Wednesday.

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