By Thomas Zinzarella ’21
After an impressive regular season, the Providence College Women’s Basketball Team headed to Wintrust Arena in Chicago, Illinois to test their fate in the Big East Tournament. The official seeding was not set until the final weekend of Big East play. The Friars earned the #7 seed in the tournament and were faced with the task of the #10 seed, the Xavier University Musketeers.
The Friars were able to down the Musketeers by a final score of 70-62 to advance to the Big East Quarterfinals. The Friars held a 12-point lead at half but, the Musketeers kept pursuing the Friars, cutting the lead within six at one point before the Friars went on a 6-0 run and ultimately won the game. The Friars were led in scoring by Olivia Orlando ’21 who caught fire for a career high 18 points (9-11 FG). Maddie Jolin ’19 poured in another 15 points for the Friars.
The keys to the win were the Friars’ ability to control the glass and also only turn the ball over eight times which was the second lowest total of the season. “We have very little chance tomorrow if we turn it over a bunch like we’ve done the two times we’ve played DePaul,” stated Providence Head Coach Jim Crowley. “Now, they force it, they play at a really high pace, but we have to be better taking care of the ball. We’re fairly efficient offensively when we do take care of it.” The Friars’ win over Xavier was their first victory in the Big East tournament since 2001.
The Friars faced the future Big East Champs, the DePaul University Blue Demons. The Friars once again fell early as they trailed 9-20 after the first quarter. At one point, the Blue Demons were on a 12-0 run before the Friars took a timeout. The Blue Demons continued to roll in the second quarter where the lead was pushed up to 19 points before the Friars used a run of their own to close it within 12. In the second half, the Friars closed the defecit to single digits halfway through the third quarter before the Blue Demons were able to close things out and defeat the Friars 85-60. Mary Baskerville ’21 scooped up 10 of her team high 17 points in the 4th quarter. Each squad finished the game with 19 turnovers but benefited DePaul. “Their shot-making is exemplary, it’s outstanding, and they really put a lot of pressure on you because you make a mistake and they make you pay, and they did so to us,” Crowley commented after the game.
Although this loss ended their regular season and conference play, Coach Crowley alluded to some hope for postseason play. “Having coached in the WNIT a few times, we think that’s an amazing opportunity and we’d be honored to be a part of that.”
On Monday night, the Women’s National Invitation Tournament field was announced, and the Friars were able to secure a bid. This is the Friars’ first postseason appearance since 2010. The Friars will host the University of Hartford Hawks on Thursday at 7 p.m. in Alumni Hall.