posted on: Thursday December 2, 2010
Nick Aiken ’12 & John Butler ’11/ Sports Staff
The Men’s Basketball Team hosted Northeastern University at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center on Wednesday, Dec. 1. From the get-go, it was evident that a victory over the Huskies was not going to be an easy task for the Friars.
The Huskies came out strong, assuming an 11-2 lead over the Friars just minutes into the game. At the 15:31 mark, Friars Head Coach Keno Davis called a timeout to try to stop the bleeding and rally his troops. It didn’t work. In a 12 minute span characterized by sloppy offense and hot Husky shooting, Northeastern was able to keep building on their lead, and eventually increased it to 11 points with just under eight minutes left in the half.
But then the Friars showed signs of life. Vincent Council ’13 used his signature jive and drive move to create a chance for a three-point play, with just under three minutes to play. He missed the foul shot, but he brought the Friars within three points of the Huskies, their smallest deficit all game. The Huskies, though, were able to increase their advantage to four, and it looked as if this would be the deficit the Friars would face heading into the locker room. However, Marshon Brooks ’11 did not see it that way. With just seconds remaining in the first half, Brooks sprinted down the court, faked out two Husky defenders, and laid it off the glass at the buzzer to make the halftime score 37-35 in Northeastern’s favor.
Although the contest remained close until the final second of play, the Friars outplayed the Huskies during the second half. Gerard Coleman ’14 tied the game at 39 just minutes into the half, and just minutes later, Kadeem Batts ’14 knocked down a jumper to propel the Friars to their first lead. Coleman was named the Big East Rookie of the Week after his impressive play in the Cancun Classic.
Just as things were looking up for Providence, the tides turned in Northeastern’s favor once again, as they regained a six point lead with just under 15 minutes to play. But this time, their lead did not last very long at all. The Friars were able to stop turning the ball over and play with heart, pride, and great tenacity until the final buzzer.
With 13:43 left, Duke Mondy ’13 picked the pocket of the man whom he was guarding and passed the ball to Brooks, who laid it in to make it a four point game. And on the next possession, Brooks once again scored for the Friars on an alley-oop from Council.
At the 12:13 mark, the Friars once again tied the game thanks to a three- point play by Mondy, and then took back the lead when Council stole the ball at half court, reversed direction, and made a layup at 10:30. From then on, the Friars did not relinquish their lead.
The Friars put on a show during the last ten minutes of the game thanks to several dunks by Bilal Dixon ’13, two swishes by Council, a pair of three-pointers and four made foul shots by Brooks, who took over the game during the last several minutes. Brooks finished with 27 points to lead the Friars to a 77-72 nail-biter over the Huskies.
It was a tale of two halves for Providence on Monday against Central Connecticut State, a powerhouse of the NEC, but a team clearly not of Big East caliber. Providence won 92-57, but the first half was much closer than the score might indicate. The Friars jumped out to an early lead, and held a 13-2 advantage by the 15:27 mark of the first half. That lead swiftly evaporated, however, as Blue Devils’ Ken Horton sparked a comeback, which eventually put the Friars on the short end of a 29-20 score.
“We said in the huddle before the game that we can’t play down to the level of the competition,” said Coleman, who finished with 14 points. “A team like this can stay around if you let them, and next thing you know you have a game.”
And a game it was. CCSU used a very effective 1-3-1 full-court press during the first half that stymied the Providence offense. It has been a week full of learning for this young Providence team, which faced solid zone defenses in the Cancun Challenge and the Blue Devils’ press on Monday. The Friars had seen neither defense previously this season.
“In their 1-3-1 they were disruptive,” said Friars Head Coach Keno Davis. “They were aggressive. And you could just tell that our guys were unsure of what exactly to do.”
Three and four-minute scoring draughts in the first half plagued Providence’s performance, but solid shooting from the field and a perfect showing from the free-throw line kept the Friars in the game.
Mondy scored back-to-back treys, and Council followed up with a lay-up which cut the Blue Devils’ lead down to three as half time approached. Providence regained the lead thanks to a hook shot by Batts, and two free throws by Council closed out the half with PC leading narrowly 38-37.
But that narrow lead would expand dramatically in the second half thanks to the clinic that Brooks put on in the early going. The Friars shot 63.6 percent from the field and 50 percent from behind the three-point lines—two factors which were critical to establishing the lead.
“We…started off the second half as if it was the beginning of the game, which experienced teams are able to do,” said Coach Davis. “They’re able to not start slowly in the second half. I thought we looked like a different team, for the better.”
Of the first 18 points the Friars scored in the second half, Brooks accounted for 14 of them. In a matter of eight minutes, Brooks dunked twice, had two three-pointers, and scored a series of lay-ups. His play undoubtedly ignited a Friar run that ultimately sealed the victory for Providence.
“We’re getting better and better every game,” said Brooks. And not only are the Friars getting better as their schedule progresses, but they are getting better and better as each individual game goes on. If they can play Saturday’s game in the manner in which they did during the last several minutes, beating URI will be a very attainable goal. “We have to take each game one by one and keep seeing what kind of numbers we can put up,” said Coach Davis. “Even though this is a young team and we’re one or two years away from being where we want to be, this team wants to win now.”