by Sullivan Burgess ’20
As the end of the season swiftly approaches, the Providence College Friars dominate the Big East Conference play, with a major win against the # 3 overall Villanova, with a final score of 76-71.
After suffering a heavy loss to DePaul last Saturday, 80-63, the Friars bounced back and came back better than ever beating Nova and securing a 8-5 record in the 2017-2018 Big East Standings behind Xavier, Villanova, and Creighton, and a 17-9 overall record in the NCAA.
While the season has been back and forth with significant wins and tough losses, the Friars hope to provide the burning energy and spirit needed as they head towards the Big East Tournament and hopefully an appearance in the March Madness Tournament. Some of these notable wins come from Big East play, including ranked rivals such as #5 Xavier, Creighton, Marquette, DePaul, and Butler when the team was on a four-game winning streak.
However, things took a turn for the worse when the team’s streak was snapped by back to back losses to Villanova and Seton Hall. The team found themselves back on pace with back to back wins against Marquette and Georgetown, but DePaul, as mentioned previously, came out swinging to hand the team their fifth loss. All hope was not lost as the Friars brought the win to Villanova and look to carry the momentum of this win into the end of the regular season.
In a game filled with jaw-dropping dunks, plays, and a court storming by the entire student section, the team now has something to celebrate. The Friars defense was able to stop Nova from shooting threes and allowed 19 turnovers that turned into some scoring opportunities. The offense was excellent as five Friars had double digits in scoring, including a leading 17 points from Kyron Cartwright ’18.
Head Coach Ed Cooley stated to the press after the game, “Honestly, the greatest win I’ve ever had at Providence College.”
The team will look to continue this spark for the last few games, including the last home game of the season against St. John’s. Despite a few losses on the way, the players have played consistently good basketball throughout Big East games. Rodney Bullock ’18 has been leading the team in both minutes and points this season with 31.9 minutes per game and 14.6 points per game, as he continues to find a rhythm both on and off the court.
Cartwright has also been leading in assists with six per game, noticeably becoming the difference maker on the team. With games coming down to the wire, Cartwright has been putting the team on his back to provide the leadership needed for this squad.
The Friars must face each team this year without forward Emmitt Holt ’18, who is redshirting this year due to injury. However, Holt has been back on campus this semester and has been practicing with the team. This not only provides an on-campus energy used on game day, it creates the opportunity for Holt to teach the younger players and allow them to be stronger in the paint from experience.
These younger players include Alpha Diallo ’20, Kalif Young ’20, and Nate Watson ’21, all of whom have improved their game, including great offense and stellar defense against the Big East’s best players. With minimal games remaining in the regular season, it is now or never for the Friars.
Soon they will be sent off to Madison Square Garden for the Big East Tournament, hopefully taking down Villanova and becoming the champions again, which will hopefully make things easier after their upset. For now, Friar fans must wait and enjoy the last few games of the season while continuing to bring the constant energy to the Dunkin’ Donuts Center and help the team motivate each other to secure a spot in March Madness.