By Thomas Zinzarella ’21
The Providence College Men’s Basketball Team wrapped up their west coast swing on Sunday, after competing in the John Wooden Legacy Tournament in Anaheim, California. The Friars went into the tournament with high expectations but ultimately came out with more questions than answers.
After dropping a home game to the University of Pennsylvania, the Friars were defeated by Long Beach State on Thanksgiving Day. The Friars went into halftime with a 37-28 lead and led by as much as 17 in that first half. The Friars offense went stagnant at times which helped Long Beach State chip into the deficit. After shooting 48 percent in the first half, the Friars cooled off in the second half, shooting 35 percent from the floor and just 3-12 from downtown.
The 49ers pulled within one with under a minute left after Michael Carter III sunk a three to cut the score deficit to one. With the Friars up two with 17 seconds remaining, Alpha Diallo ’20 missed the front end of a one and one to extend the lead. Carter III was fouled again on a three-point shot attempt with three seconds remaining and sunk all three free throws. David Duke ’22 caught a pass on a give and go and his 15-foot runner was short as time expired. The Friars ultimately lost the game 65-66.
The Friars and Ed Cooley were absolutely shocked at the result as they left the floor. The Friars led the game for almost 37 minutes. “You all saw the game, it wasn’t one of our better finishes,” Cooley added. “You have to give Long Beach a lot of credit. They executed down the stretch and took advantage of our mistakes. Anytime you get in those close games; everything means something.”
Providence failed to record a field goal in the final seven minutes of game action. The Friars also did not help themselves by turning the ball over 21 times.
After the Friars dropped game one of the tournament, they took on the College of Charleston Cougars. Things did not get much better for the Friars. Many of the same problems seen in the game against Long Beach State reappeared again. The Friars struggled on the offensive end, especially finishing around the rim. For most of the game, PC was held to just one possession on the offensive end as they were outrebounded 25-37. It was the third time they were outrebounded this season. For the second straight game, Providence held a lead at the half, this time 29-27. The Friars shot 43 percent from the field before going 7-28 from the field in second half and a mere 1-8 from behind the arc. Duke led the way with 22 points, 7-8 FG, and five assists. On the other side, Grant Riller scored 29 points, including an impressive 9-10 clip from the free throw line. The Friars also held a lead that was as high as 13. For the first time since 2015, an Ed Cooley squad dropped three straight non-conference games.
Providence then finished out the tournament against the Pepperdine University Waves. Pepperdine took nationally ranked University of Arizona to the wire in the opening game of the tournament before falling just short 97-95. Ed Cooley knew that he would have his hands full and the Friars knew exactly where they needed to go in game three. The Friars needed to work the ball down in the post area and reestablish Nate Watson ’21, who is still working his way back from an MCL injury he sustained prior to the start of the season. Watson finished with a team high 15 points on 7-10 FG, with AJ Reeves ’22, who also netted 15 points on 4-8 shooting from the field. Reeves’ 15 points were the most he has scored since the home opener against Sacred Heart University. The Friars improved on offense in some parts shooting 47 percent from the field for the game while shooting 20-27 from the charity stripe.
According to Kevin McNamara, journalist for the Providence Journal, the Friars have not lost more than four games in non-conference play since 2000. For Friar fans, their schedule does not get much easier with a road game on Friday with their in-state rival University of Rhode Island, and games against the University of Florida and the University of Texas still left on their schedule. For now, PC basketball fans get a sigh of relief but, there is still work left to do. If the Friars want to compete for a spot in the NCAA Tournament, they will have to get better play from their senior leaders Diallo and Luwane Pipkins ’20G.