By Gavin Woods ’22
The Providence College Men’s Basketball Team was defeated by Xavier University last Saturday, 58-64. The Friars record has now fallen to 13-11 on the regular season, and 6-5 within the Big East.
Both teams came out of the gates aggressively. The Friars got into an early rhythm, but struggled to slow the Musketeers from inside the paint. The soft coverage down low and lack of communication among the defense enabled the Musketeers to consistently get high percentage looks.
The Friars’ offense seemed to be working effectively, as they maintained the lead for the majority of the first half. However, their issue was not scoring, but rather keeping Xavier from scoring easy layups. As the game progressed, Xavier seemed to find success with their substitutions, particularly with Kyky Tandy, who scored 10 points off the bench.
PC’s offense was led by Nate Watson ’21 with 16 points and seven rebounds. Watson was supported by Alpha Diallo ’20 and David Duke ’22 with 14 and 12 points, respectively. However, the Friars seem to be struggling to find their identity, as these three stars are the only players to consistently score double digits each game. The offensive burden for the Friars must be more evenly distributed among the team.
Another issue currently plaguing the Friars is subpar perimeter shooting. Out of 23 attempted three point shots, only four fell, resulting in a three point percentage of 17.4. It’s entirely possible that PC is simply attempting too many three pointers. Luwane Pipkins ’20 shot a total of nine three pointers only to make two of them. This means that seven possessions were essentially handed to Xavier. The Musketeers attempted only 19 three pointers and landed five of them for a three point percentage of 26.3.
Perhaps the biggest issue for the Friars lies in the way they finish games. As seen several times throughout the 2019-2020 season, including the recent loss to Villanova University, PC’s shot selection in the dying minutes of the second half become erratic and forced. With 8:59 to play in the second half, Providence led 50-47. Xavier then went on to execute a 5-0 point run, leading PC 52-50. Following this run, the Musketeers never gave the lead back, with the Friars making only three shots within the final 10 minutes of the second half.
Head coach Ed Cooley voiced his frustration following the loss saying, “I’m really pissed at my team. I thought we were undisciplined. I thought we took some uncharacteristic shots. I didn’t think we were united the way you have to be on the road in these environments.”
The PC versus St. John’s game was not completed at press time.