By Liam Tormey ’22
As the first semester of the 2019-2020 school year came to an end on Dec. 14, the Providence College Men’s Basketball Team was sitting at a 5-5 record, a record that the team did not expect to be at. However, the season was young, with winter break just around the corner. That Saturday night, Ed Cooley’s team faced off at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center against Stony Brook University.
The Friars got off to a quick start against Stony Brook, getting up by ten points at halftime. Stony Brook made it interesting in the second half, scoring 54 points, but thanks to David Duke’s ‘22 and Luwane Pipkins’ ‘20G 21 points on the night, the Friars pushed their record to 6-5 after a 82-78 victory.
The Friars would be back in action just three days later as they traveled to Brooklyn, NY to play in the Air Force Reserve Basketball Hall of Fame Invitational against a solid University of Florida side. From the very start, the Friars were just not in the game.
The Gators got an early lead and went on a couple of runs to push their lead at halftime to a score of 37-22. There was no looking back for the Gators after that and the final score in the sixth loss of PC’s season was 83-51. The Friars were 15-58 (25.9%) from the field, 1-18 (5.6%) from three-point range, and 20-34 (58.8%) from the free throw line.
This game was one the Friars wanted to forget about. It would have been no Christmas gift.
The rest of the month-long winter break was very successful for the Friars. Right before the Christmas festivities, PC finished up their non-conference play and hosted the University of Texas Longhorns in a solid challenge for a Big East-Big 12 Battle. The game was nothing like the previous one, and the Friars answered the call. The Friars were great defensively and held the Longhorns to 48 points. Ed Cooley’s team grabbed a 22-point victory by a score of 70-48 and grabbed 52 rebounds, the first time they have grabbed over 50 rebounds in a game since they played the University of Connecticut on January 31, 2013. Alpha Diallo ’20 led the team with 14 points and 12 rebounds. The Friars finished up their non-conference play at 7-6.
Big East play opened on New Year’s Eve at the Dunk as the Friars hosted Georgetown University. From the get-go the Friars came out to play. At the end of the first half, the Friars went up 54-23, shooting 64.5 percent from the field. Alpha Diallo once again led the team with a game-high 20 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 steals. The Friars led the entire game and closed out their first victory in the Big East 76-60.
PC then had to go on the road for two tough contests against DePaul University and Marquette University.
Both teams had very good non-conference performances. In Chicago, the Friars were in a nail-biter against DePaul. After being down by two at halftime, the Friars came back and grew their largest lead of ten points in the second half. DePaul would not go down easy and, with under a minute to go, the game could go either way. Thanks to Maliek White ’20 and his 16 points off the bench, the Friars won another Big East game by a score of 66-65. Three days later PC headed to Marquette, having to face up against Big East Player of the Year Markus Howard. This was probably the most entertaining game of the break. The Friars did as much as they could to shut Howard down although he had 39 points on the night. AJ Reeves ‘22 saved the day for the Friars as he hit a game-tying three pointer with under ten seconds remaining. White had another big game and in overtime propelled PC to their fourth straight win behind his 19 points.
The final game of the break was against the No. six team in the country, Butler University. Although being down by 12 at halftime, the Friars had made the game as close as it could have been, but the shots were not falling. PC shot 31 percent from the field and 24 percent from behind the arch. It was a tough test for the Friars and, unfortunately, they lost their first game in five games. PC now currently sits at 10-7 overall and fifth in the Big East standings at 3-1.