By Thomas Zinzarella ’21
After seeing the Providence College Men’s Basketball Team come off an unexpected loss against DePaul University during the latter part of the week, the Friar faithful made sure to come out in force and rally behind their home team as they hosted the No. 2 ranked Villanova University Wildcats on Wednesday, February 14. Friar students stole the clothing headlines as they outmatched Villanova head coach Jay Wright and his fresh dry-cleaned suits with their pink Friar t-shirts to commemorate Pink Out in Friartown.
PC had gotten crushed by the Wildcats earlier in the year, but from the tip-off, Friar fans could see the team was going to fight all 40 minutes.
The Friars stuck with Villanova early on and had a 27-23 lead at half. PC’s defense held the Wildcats to 0-7 from behind the three point line in the first half.
Through the first 10 minutes of the second half, neither team could gain an edge. PC held a 49-47 lead when Rodney Bullock ’18 finished with an electric one-handed slam dunk that sent the Dunkin’ Donuts Center into a frenzy.
Villanova continued to struggle to find their rhythm on offense as the Friars put constant pressure on their shooters all night. Lead by Kyron Cartwright ’18 and Alpha Diallo ’20, PC pushed ahead to a 67-58 lead with about four minutes left to go.
Cartwright led the Friars with 17 points while Diallo and Bullock both scored 14. Jalen Lindsey ’18 also chipped in with three 3-pointers and playing stout defense.
Villanova did not go down quietly, however, as Collin Gillespie hit a layup with 29 seconds left to make the score 72-69, but it was too late for a comeback. The Wildcats were forced to foul and the Friars hit their free throws down the stretch to seal the unlikely win.
The Friars’ performance on the court that day prompted a court storming by the student section to celebrate the upset victory over a rival. The Friar community united to yell and scream the entire game.
Many coaches in the Big East despise coming to the Dunk, as it has been shown that the Dunkin’ Donuts Center is where ranked teams come to die. Friar fans welcomed Coach Wright with open arms and made sure to make it as difficult as possible for his Wildcat team to feel comfortable.
In a college basketball season full of upsets, PC was fortunate enough to be a part of the history, especially against one of their closest rivals.
The scene of students swarming the court only added to the tradition and the pageantry of PC basketball. From their double overtime upset bid over No. 1 Michigan in 1976 to their magical run in 1987, the Friars’ program looks to add more hardware and banners in the rafters in the near future.