by Sullivan Burgess ’20
It is only two weeks into March and needless to say it has been a crazy few weeks for the Providence College Friars Men’s Basketball Team and for Friar fanatics.
The month began for the Friars with a trip to the Big Apple for the Big East Tournament held annually in the world’s most famous arena, Madison Square Garden.
The Friars began the tournament as a fifth seed in the Big East standings, playing against the third seed Creighton University Bluejays. This season the Friars went 1-1 with Creighton, so expectations were high coming into the game.
The game came down to the wire and ultimately had to be decided in overtime after battling back and forth over each half. The victory was handed to the Friars as they took over in the last few minutes to secure the win 72-68.
Small forward Alpha Diallo ’20 led the game in scoring for the Friars with 19 points and 9 rebounds. Point guard Kyron Cartwright ’18 after the game said he was excited about the atmosphere of the Garden and stated to the press, “It’s like, feels like our second home sometimes. We got a lot of great alumni who come out, a lot of great fans, a lot of students here from the New York area. They always come out. They support us. They’re really loud out there and we feed off their energy.”
The Friars played the next day in the semi-final against the one seed Xavier University, who came off of a strong victory against St. John’s University.
Again the game went back and forth throughout each half and overall had to be decided again in overtime. In overtime, the Friars played with confidence and strength and defeated Xavier 75-72 to secure a spot in the championship game.
Cartwright and Rodney Bullock ’18 came in clutch as they made many great plays to win the game, including 15 and 17 points, respectively.
The time had then come to show the world what the Friars are really made of as they entered the championship game against conference rivals, the two seed Villanova University Wildcats. To match the common theme throughout the tournament for the Friars, the game had gone to overtime, after the Friars came back in the second half.
Unfortunately, overtime went to the Wildcats as they out-scored the Friars 16-6 in overtime resulting in a final score of 76-66. In the end, Cartwright and Diallo were named to the All-Tournament Team in the guard and guard/forward position.
Despite the loss, Coach Ed Cooley stated to the press after the game “I thought we played great. I thought we played tough. I thought we played together.” These strong words were enough to boost the spirits of the fans and students.
The next day after the championship was more nerve-wracking than the championship, as it was Selection Sunday for the NCAA March Madness Tournament.
While fans were tense throughout the day, they were anxious to see the placement of the Friars in the tournament. The performance of the Friars in the Big East Tournament was definitely able to push the team from on the bubble to either a seventh, eighth, nineth, or tenth seed.
The team was ultimately placed in the west region at a 10 seed, playing against seven seed Texas A&M. Providence was one of the six teams from the Big East that made the March Madness Tournament, along with Villanova and Xavier at one seeds, Creighton and Seton Hall University at eight, and Butler University at No. 10. Overall the Friars are ready to go dancing this March.