Women’s Soccer Staying Positive in Defeat

by The Cowl Editor on November 14, 2019

Friar Sports

By Sullivan Burgess ’20

Sports Staff

providence college women's soccer team
Photo Courtesy of PC Athletics

A fluctuating season for the Providence College Women’s Soccer Team ended last Thursday, November 7, in a 0-2 loss to Georgetown University in the Big East Tournament. The loss ultimately brought the Friars to an untimely end to their season at an 8-9-3 record, and 3-5-1 record in the Big East Conference. The Friars’ record had granted them the sixth-place seed in the Big East Tournament.

Highlights across the season included the opening season home win versus the University of Connecticut, the overtime win at the University of Texas, and even the underdog win against Butler University in the Big East Tournament, which ended in a shootout.

Theresa Durkee ’20 and Hannah McNulty ’21, expressed their favorite moments of the season, as well as the tools and strategies they used when going into the last game against Georgetown. They focused on looking forward to the moment of being in the semi-finals and overall not being intimidated by Georgetown’s record as one of the top-ranked teams in the Big East Conference.

These strategies also included keeping possession, exploiting Georgetown’s weaknesses, and remaining confident with keeping the energy in the tournament. As mentioned by McNulty, who led the team with nine goals, “Being the underdog in the tournament certainly provided us with confidence to show everyone who we can be and keep the identity which we tried to create throughout the season, so we will try to take each game day-by-day.”

While the team lost in the semi-finals, they looked on the bright side of what they accomplished this season, as well as the memories they created with the team throughout the season.

The two words that Durkee and McNulty used to describe the season were “memorable” and “growth.” With this being Durkee’s last season, she was both excited and nervous for the season to the start and end.

Herself, as well as fellow seniors Olivia Lucia ’20, Melissa Bambery ’20, Alessandra Arace ’20, and Katelyn Vieira ’19GS, enjoyed being role models for their teammates and creating a culture that is used today within the team.

When asked about one thing she could say to her younger freshman self, back in 2016, Durkee said, “Do not let the pressure get to you,” telling all the future recruits to enjoy the time they have on the team. Durkee even mentioning to all: “Do it for the little girl.”

As she prepares for her senior year on the team, McNulty has one clear goal on her mind: winning the Big East National Championship. She is ready to take the team and lead the charge against all those that stand in their way next season. Looking forward to what the spring sessions have to offer in 2020, she is grateful for what the seniors taught her on how to be the leader she knows she can be.

The culture for the Friars is ready to expand and change the dynamic for years to come.

Women’s Soccer Vying for Final Playoff Spot

by The Cowl Editor on October 31, 2019

Friar Sports

By Marc DeMartis ’21

Sports Staff

providence college women's soccer team big east playoffs
Brianna Colletti ’21

This past Sunday, the Providence College Women’s Soccer Team took on the Villanova University Wildcats for the Friars’ Senior Day. Although the Friars were defeated 0-1, they dominated the stat sheet in almost every category. 

The Friars had a total of 14 shots compared to Villanova’s six. Rhode Island native Hannah McNulty ’21 led the Friars’ attack with five attempted shots, with one shot-on-goal being a header that ended up hitting the right post. A goal that the Friars could have used to tie the game. McNulty also scored an impressive header that was waved off after being ruled offsides in the 60th minute.

The Wildcats began the game strong, scoring early in the 21st minute, but lost their momentum in the second half as the Friars outshot them 10-0. 

Even though the seniors were upset after losing a hard-fought game, they were just as happy to play with their teammates for their last home game. Olivia Lucia ’20 said, “Although we didn’t get the result we wanted tonight, I was so proud of the effort and hard work that the team put forth. It was an emotional day, but I was overjoyed to be surrounded by my team and fellow seniors on our home field for our last home game.”

When asked about how she felt about her Senior Day, Lucia said, “I honestly can’t put into words how emotional and amazing my senior season has been for me. It doesn’t feel real that I might be playing my last game this week. The little girl inside me doesn’t want to let go of the sport that became her escape and passion.”

Now the Friars look forward to their last game of the regular season against Seton Hall University on Oct. 31. After that, they have the Big East Tournament ahead of them. Lucia is looking forward to this year’s tournament, saying, “Going into the Big East Tournament, I have a lot of confidence in the team and know that if we work hard we can be very successful.” Tournament play starts for the Friars on Nov. 3.

PC Softball Still on the Hunt

by The Cowl Editor on May 2, 2019

Friar Sports

Breakout Season Gives Friars Postseason Hopes

By Eileen Flynn ’20

Sports Staff

providence college softball big east
Photo Courtesy of PC Athletics

As we take a look back on this year, it is hard not to talk about the Providence College Softball Team. The season started off with a doubleheader in the Sunshine State, the Friars faced University of Massachusetts-Lowell and Georgia Institute of Technology in the River City Leadoff Tournament in Jacksonville, Florida. While the rest of the school was in the middle of winter, the Lady Friars were warming up for an impressive season.

PC played their next tournament the following weekend and faced teams such as St. Joseph’s University, University of Kansas, and the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. Although the team did not leave Florida with a winning record, the team was finding their rhythm and working through the kinks. The next team trip came at the beginning of March during the College’s spring break.

Allison Abbatiello ’19, one of the seven seniors on the team, says her favorite team memory was when the girls went to a Yankees Spring Training game. She said that even though “there were only about five or six of us who are diehard Yankee fans, the game was a really special experience.” The team spent their spring break bonding and with the new coaching staff, there were a lot of new relationships that needed to be built.

Jill Karwoski was named the head coach of the Friar’s softball team at the beginning of this year. With past experience as an assistant coach for the Friars in 2013, Karwoski was welcomed with open arms along with Assistant Coach Bree Nasti.

Abbatiello is just one of the many seniors on the team who have helped with the transition of leadership. “Although there was an unexpected adjustment to our program, I remained calm and became supportive of my teammates and new coaches.”

The team chemistry was evident in their performance during the week in Florida, when they won four out of the five games. The College won close match-ups against Furman University, Central Michigan University, United State Military Academy, and Saint Francis University.

The momentum was not stopped with the change in weather, back in New England the Friars were continuing to play well against top teams like Boston College. Daniela Alvarez ’22, pitched her seventh complete game of the season and her third shutout.

Competition is always amped up a level when it is time to play the Big East teams. St. John’s University won two out of the three game series, however, the 10-6 victory for Friars was promising for their future.

The team went on to sweep two strong Big East teams, Creighton University, and Butler University. Their most recent win was extra special for Abbatiello because in the midst of a close game, she reached a milestone she has been working towards her whole career at Providence College.

On senior day nonetheless, Abbatiello made perfect contact with the ball and sent it over the fence for a three-run home run. Vanessa Portillo ’19 followed fellow senior Abbatiello’s lead and expanded the lead for the Friars to 4-0 after she hit a home run as well.

“During my last home game of my collegiate career, I hit my first home run which was shortly followed by another home run from Vanessa Portillo. It was so exciting and a great way to conclude the seniors’ final game in Friartown.”

Although there will be no more home games for the Friars, their season is all but over. Make sure to follow along as the team plays University of Massachusetts-Amherst and Georgetown University, and hopefully gets a chance to compete in the Big East championship.

Men’s Lacrosse Wins Regular Season Finale

by The Cowl Editor on May 2, 2019

Friar Sports

Friars Earn Three-Seed for Big East

By Gavin Woods ’22

Sports Staff

providence college men's lacrosse
Photo Courtesy of PC Athletics

Thanks to a 9-8 overtime win over Villanova University last Saturday at Chapey Field, the Providence College Men’s Lacrosse Team is heading to the Big East tournament. Following two tough losses to University of Denver and Brown University, respectively, the Friars bounced back in a big way to become the third seed in the Big East standings. PC will now look forward to their first game of the Big East tournament against Georgetown University. 

The name of Saturday’s game was offense. The first goal came less than five minutes into the opening quarter from Villanova. However, the Friars responded with two consecutive goals from Duncan McGinnis ‘19 and Evan McGreen ‘21 at 7:35 and 5:32, respectively. The Friars held their lead until 1:23 left in the quarter when Villanova’s Corey McManus scored an emphatic goal to tie the game at two goals apiece, assisted by Keegan Kahn. The Wildcats won the following faceoff, giving them just over a minute to attempt another goal. McManus fired Villanova’s last shot in the quarter, which was saved by PC keeper, Tate Boyce ‘19. With 14 seconds left on the clock, the Friars had one last chance to clear the ball to the Wildcats’ territory. Following the successful clear, the PC offense worked the ball around until McGreen  was able to find David Procopio ‘19 for the buzzer-beater goal. 

The Friars continued trading goals with the Wildcats throughout the second and third quarters, until Villanova extended their lead to two goals with 12:51 left in the fourth quarter. This began an eight-minute stalemate between the two teams.

With only 4:46 left in the game, it began to look bleak for the Friars until Dan Axelson ‘20 delivered a much needed, unassisted goal to reduce the deficit to one goal. Despite losing the following faceoff, PC was playing with all the momentum. Boyce produced a game-saving stop to give the Friars another chance. After successfully clearing the ball to the opposing side, PC’s Tim Hinrichs ‘21 hoped to tie the game with a side-arm shot that narrowly missed, hitting the crossbar.

Following this possession, Villanova recovered the ball and began an attempt to run out the clock. Yet another save from Boyce gave the Friars another chance at redemption.

After turning the ball over once again, a Villanova defender launched the ball to the opposing side with ten seconds remaining in the game. Miraculously, Boyce recovered the ball and sent it to the Villanova side, where the Friars recovered. In the dying seconds of the game, McGreen was able to feed Nick Hatzipetrakos ’19 for a diving goal to force overtime. This goal added tremendously to the Friars’ confidence which enabled Colin Keating ‘19 to score the game-winning unassisted goal just five seconds into OT.

This pivotal conference win gave PC a regular season record of 7-8, 3-2 within the Big East. This win was essential, as it secured their position to play Georgetown instead of the number one seed, Denver. Nonetheless, Georgetown will prove to be a true test for the Friars as the Bulldogs won the previous regular season matchup in a 15-17 shootout. Georgetown boasts an impressive regular season record of 11-4; however, they share the same conference record of 3-2 with PC.

Track and Field Head to Big East

by The Cowl Editor on May 2, 2019

Friar Sports

By Cam Smith ’21

Sports Staff

providence college track and field big east tournament
Photo Courtesy of PC Athletics

The Providence College Men’s and Women’s Track and Field Teams produced some magnificent results last week while participating in two meets. On Thursday, the teams traveled to the University of Pennsylvania to take part in the 125th running of the Penn Relays. The Relays are touted as the world’s first and most widely recognized annual relay event, each year bringing in crowds of up to 100,000 people. Top athletes from around the country and around the world compete in the event that pre-dates even the NCAA.

The highlight of the meet for the Friars was undoubtedly the performance of Brianna Ilarda ’19RS. Competing in the women’s 3,000 meter steeplechase, Ilarda jumped out to an early lead and simply refused to relinquish her top spot. With five laps to go, the redshirt senior pulled away even further, leaving her competition struggling to keep pace as she cruised to a record setting victory. Indeed, Ilarda’s time of 9:55.43 was not only a personal best, but also a Penn Relays record, as she surpassed the previous time by over a second. This was Ilarda’s third win in the event in the last four years.

Ilarda was not the only PC representative to impress on Thursday, as three other Friars finished in the top 15 in their respective events. In the women’s 5,000 meters, Abbey Wheeler ’20 and Regan Rome GR each ran fantastic races, proving they belonged alongside the top competition in the country. Wheeler and Rome ran most of the race in the lead pack, and as the race went on, both were part of the top five that began to pull away from the other runners.

Eventually, with one mile left, Wheeler and two other runners again pulled away and Wheeler was able to obtain sole possession of the lead. The three would remain neck and neck in the last mile, and Wheeler would end up finishing third with a remarkable time of 16:07.01, just seconds off the pace of the first-place finisher. Rome, too, would post a tremendous time of 16:33.97, good enough for the eighth overall spot in a race that consisted of 63 top-notch participants. In the past, Wheeler’s time has qualified for the NCAA East Preliminary Round, producing optimism that she’ll be able to represent the Friars on the biggest stage.

Running in the top heat of the men’s 5,000 meters, Marcelo Rocha ’21 finished 13th in a race that a whopping 102 participants competed in. Rocha ran a very steady event, and his impressive time of 14:17.19 was only a mere 15 seconds behind the winner. The time was also a personal record for Rocha, who has been a pivotal part of the men’s squad all year long.

Returning home to Providence, the Friars made a quick journey over to Brown University, where they competed in the Brown Springtime Invitational against several local institutions such as the University of Rhode Island, Northeastern University, and the University of Connecticut. Some notable results on the men’s side, include Jack Carleo ’21 taking home the top prize in the 800 meters with a time of 1.53.03 and Angus White ’21 finishing just a tenth of a second behind the winner of the 1,500 meters. Over on the women’s side Emma Fink ’22 placed second in the high jump with a mark of 1.55 meters while Megan Stenberg ’21 also secured a second-place finish in the 100 meter hurdles with a time of 15.76.

The Friars will now enjoy a well-deserved week off before turning their sights to the Big East Championships, set to take place on May 10 and 11 at Icahn Stadium in New York City.

Friars Come Up Short at Madison Square Garden

by The Cowl Editor on March 21, 2019

Friar Sports

Providence College Misses NCAA Tournament for First Time in Six Years

By Sullivan Burgess

Sports Staff

The last week has been quite eventful for the Providence College Men’s Basketball Team. From the Big East Tournament in Madison Square Garden to the National Invitational Tournament at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center, the team experienced ups and downs that ultimately closed the season, which had also been a rollercoaster.

On Wednesday, March 13, the team, ranked as the eighth seed for the Big East Tournament, faced conference rivals Butler University. After a close first half, the Friars began to pull away and defeat Butler 80-57. Shooting 55.8 percent from the field and 47.8 percent from the three point line. The last time the team shot this well was in 1993 against the University of Connecticut.

Karlene Cudak ’19/THE COWL

Four players achieved double digits in points during this game. The leader was guard Maliek White ’20. White had a consistent and career-high 19 points providing a spark throughout the entire game, being the team’s go-to player. Alpha Diallo ’20 also scored 18 points with two threes, David Duke ’22 recorded 16 points shooting 6-8 from the field and 2-3 from the three. Lastly, Isaiah Jackson ’19RS, came off the bench with another performance of clutch shooting for 13 points.

The next day for the first game of the quarterfinals, the Friars had to face the top-seed team of the tournament and #23-ranked team Villanova University. While the Friars kept the pace for most of the game, they ultimately failed and lost the game, 62-73.

The team was led in scoring by Nate Watson ’21 with 15 points, and more double digit scoring from Diallo and Jackson. After the game, Coach Cooley said to the press, “Our youth and mistakes on the floor came back to bite us all day…We play hard as hell and are right in these games and then you can’t score enough. It’s a microcosm of our season.”

Villanova would go on to win the Big East Tournament, earning the title of back to back champions of the tournament and guaranteeing their place in the 2019 March Madness NCAA Tournament. Meanwhile, back in Providence, the Friars had to wait and watch for their placement in either the March Madness Tournament or the NIT.

Cooley was open to the media about the possibility of being selected for the NIT, stating, “We earned exactly what we got this year. If we get into the NIT, I’ll be excited about it because I still want to play with this young group. If we don’t, we’ve got to look ourselves in the mirror. We deserved to be in that 8-9 (Big East) game. That was our body of work.”

Four Big East schools were selected for the March Madness tournament, including Villanova, Seton Hall University, Marquette University, and St. John’s University. Later that night, the Friars were selected to host the University of Arkansas as the fourth seed for the NIT hosted at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center.

The day came on Tuesday night, and sadly the Friars’ struggle throughout the season came back to haunt them as they fell to Arkansas, 72-84. While White put another career high of 19 points, the team shot 38.7 percent from the field goal, and 13 percent from the three point line.

The back and forth season came to a close, leaving the team at a record of 18-16. It was certainly not the season the coach or players had hoped for, but the pieces are in place for the team to be successful next season.

Women’s Basketball Falls in Big East Semifinals

by The Cowl Editor on March 21, 2019

Friar Sports

Friars Finish Season with Winning Record; Secure Spot in WNIT

By Thomas Zinzarella ’21

After an impressive regular season, the Providence College Women’s Basketball Team headed to Wintrust Arena in Chicago, Illinois to test their fate in the Big East Tournament. The official seeding was not set until the final weekend of Big East play. The Friars earned the #7 seed in the tournament and were faced with the task of the #10 seed, the Xavier University Musketeers.

The Friars were able to down the Musketeers by a final score of 70-62 to advance to the Big East Quarterfinals. The Friars held a 12-point lead at half but, the Musketeers kept pursuing the Friars, cutting the lead within six at one point before the Friars went on a 6-0 run and ultimately won the game. The Friars were led in scoring by Olivia Orlando ’21 who caught fire for a career high 18 points (9-11 FG). Maddie Jolin ’19 poured in another 15 points for the Friars.

The keys to the win were the Friars’ ability to control the glass and also only turn the ball over eight times which was the second lowest total of the season. “We have very little chance tomorrow if we turn it over a bunch like we’ve done the two times we’ve played DePaul,” stated Providence Head Coach Jim Crowley. “Now, they force it, they play at a really high pace, but we have to be better taking care of the ball. We’re fairly efficient offensively when we do take care of it.” The Friars’ win over Xavier was their first victory in the Big East tournament since 2001.

Photo Courtesy of PC Athletics

The Friars faced the future Big East Champs, the DePaul University Blue Demons. The Friars once again fell early as they trailed 9-20 after the first quarter. At one point, the Blue Demons were on a 12-0 run before the Friars took a timeout. The Blue Demons continued to roll in the second quarter where the lead was pushed up to 19 points before the Friars used a run of their own to close it within 12. In the second half, the Friars closed the defecit to single digits halfway through the third quarter before the Blue Demons were able to close things out and defeat the Friars 85-60. Mary Baskerville ’21 scooped up 10 of her team high 17 points in the 4th quarter. Each squad finished the game with 19 turnovers but benefited DePaul. “Their shot-making is exemplary, it’s outstanding, and they really put a lot of pressure on you because you make a mistake and they make you pay, and they did so to us,” Crowley commented after the game.

Although this loss ended their regular season and conference play, Coach Crowley alluded to some hope for postseason play. “Having coached in the WNIT a few times, we think that’s an amazing opportunity and we’d be honored to be a part of that.”

On Monday night, the Women’s National Invitation Tournament field was announced, and the Friars were able to secure a bid. This is the Friars’ first postseason appearance since 2010. The Friars will host the University of Hartford Hawks on Thursday at 7 p.m. in Alumni Hall.

Women’s Basketball Gears Up for Big East

by The Cowl Editor on March 7, 2019

Friar Sports

Friars Prepare for Tournament with Senior Game

By Thomas Zinzarella ’21

Sports Staff

providence college women's basketball
Lillie Hunter ’22/The Cowl

The Providence College Women’s Basketball Team ended the Big East regular season the way that they began it—with a pair of home matchups against two of the best teams in the Big East, #24 DePaul University and #13 Marquette University.

Last Friday night, the Friars hosted DePaul, who used a late run to fuel a 76-61 victory over the Friars. The Friars were able to keep it close by ending the first quarter with a 7-0 run to trail by only one basket. The Friars were able to tie things up at 17 a piece before DePaul had a 10-0 run. At the half, the Blue Demons led the Friars 34-24.

In the third quarter, Maddie Jolin ’19 and Jovana Nogic ’19 combined for 17 points and outscored the Blue Demons 24-19. The Friars were able to stay within five points at the start of the fourth quarter before the Blue Demons used a 12-0 run to gain a comfortable lead, ultimately leading to their 76-61 victory over the Friars.

For the first time this season, the Friars were defeated after they out-rebounded their opponent (31-30). A lot of the Friars’ troubles came at the hands of the Blue Demons defense, which forced 23 turnovers and allowed them to score 34 points. Nogic led the Friars with 17 points.

After the game, Head Coach Jim Crowley said, “Too many turnovers and fouls in the second quarter. A great third quarter, we gave ourselves a chance, and then again it’s too many turnovers.” Crowley credited DePaul’s defense, stating, “They’re good enough without giving any possessions away, and we just gave them way too many.”

  The Friars had a quick turnaround and had to prepare for another nationally ranked opponent on Sunday: the #13 Marquette Golden Eagles.

Friar fans were able to celebrate three Friar players for Senior Day. Clara Che ’19, Maddie Jolin ’19 and Nogic each walked out to half court during the pre-game ceremony and were greeted by Athletic Director Bob Driscoll, President Father Brian J. Shanley, O.P., Crowley, and many others.

The Golden Eagles sported some of the best players not only in the conference, but in the nation. However, the Golden Eagles lost two of their starters due to injury and dropped a road game against Creighton University on Friday night. The Golden Eagles needed a win to win the Big East Regular Season Title outright, and the Friars were still jostling for seeding position in the Big East.

The Friars started the game on a 5-0 run before the Golden Eagles closed the quarter on a 18-3 run and led 18-8 after the first. The Friars turned the ball over seven times in the first quarter which gave Marquette eight points.

Marquette was able to push their lead to 17 at one point during the second quarter before the Friars used a 12-4 scoring run, capped off by Chanell Williams ’21 making a lay-up at the horn before time expired. Williams tallied eight of her 12 points in the second quarter.

In the third quarter, the Friars got within three points with 3:14 to go before Marquette went on a 8-3 run to end the half. Marquette flexed their muscles in the final frame, outscoring the Friars 22-7, resulting in an 80-57 win for the Golden Eagles.

After the game, Crowley stated, “I thought we competed hard, but it was similar to Friday night where after two quarters, the game got away from us…you look at the stat line and things are fairly even until you get to one big number and that’s our turnovers.” The Golden Eagles employed similar defense tactics as the Blue Demons did on Friday night with their full court pressure that led to many turnovers in the first half. Friars turned the ball over 22 times in the loss. Williams led the Friars in scoring with 12 points while Jolin added 11 points, including three long-balls from downtown.

The Friars finish the regular season with a 16-14 overall record and an 8-10 mark in Big East play. Their 16 wins is the most since the 2009-2010 campaign, and their eight Big East victories is the most since the 1996-1997 season.

Two Friars received regular season awards. Mary Baskerville ’22 was awarded Big East Freshman of the Year. She led all freshmen in scoring with 9.4 points per games and rebounding with 7.3. Nogic was named to the All-Big East Honorable Mention Team after breaking the College’s 3-point record and scoring 13.7 points per game.

The Friars snagged the #7 seed in the Big East tournament held in Chicago at Wintrust Arena and are set to face the #10 seed, Xavier University.

Who Will Win the Big East Men’s Basketball Tournament?

by The Cowl Editor on March 7, 2019


Marquette University

By Jack Belanger ’21

Sports Co-Editor

Marquette University will win the Big East Tournament next week due to the simple fact that it is nearly impossible to stop this team on offense. The Golden Eagles have too many weapons for any team to take away for an entire game.

A perfect example of the team’s depth on offense is when Marquette beat Providence College on Feb. 23. They had five players score in double-figures, with forward Sacar Anim (fourth on the team in scoring), who was tied  with Sam Hauser for the team lead in points that day with 18.

Three of the team’s starters are shooting over 39.8 percent from the three point-line, including Joey and Sam Hauser who are shooting 45.5 and 40.1 percent, respectively. The team overall is shooting 40.7 percent from behind the arc, which is the eighth in the country.

It is also helpful to have one of the top candidates for Big East Player of the Year in guard Markus Howard. Howard has led the conference in scoring for most of the season and, with three games of 40 or more points, is certainly capable of taking control of a game. Having a guy who can create his own shot in games coming down to the wire can prove to be the difference in the final possessions.

While Villanova University is certainly also a contender to win the tournament, the Wildcats simply are not as dangerous as they were last season. The team lost its top four scorers to the NBA draft and has suffered through some inconsistent play this year, losing to weaker teams such as Furman University as well as University of Pennsylvania, and suffering through a three-game losing streak in the Big East.

These two teams have the best point differentials in the Big East with the Golden Eagles having the best at +9.2 with Villanova second at +7.9. While these have been the two best teams in the Big East, they are trending in opposite directions going into the final weeks. Since Jan. 28, Marquette has been ranked #11 or better. Meanwhile, in the same timeframe, Villanova has gone from #14 to being unranked.

While every team in the Big East will be a tough opponent come tournament time, regardless of how they finish in the standings, Marquette is playing at their best which will give them momentum over other teams. While Villanova has won three of the last four Big East Tournaments, this year, the Golden Eagles will outshoot and defend well enough to be the last team standing at Madison Square Garden.

Who Will Win the Big East Men’s Basketball Tournament?

by The Cowl Editor on March 7, 2019


Xavier University

By Scott Jarosz ’21

Sports Staff

The Big East Men’s Basketball Tournament  at Madison Square Garden is consistently one of the most exciting and unpredictable conference tournaments in all of college basketball. Any given Big East team is capable of making a run and getting to the championship game. Providence College’s performance at the 2018 Big East Tournament was a prime example of this. PC entered the tournament as the #5 seed and was matched up against #4 Creighton University in the quarterfinals. The Friars went on to beat Creighton in overtime, then faced the #1 seed Xavier University in a semifinal matchup.

PC was behind the entire game but went on to overcome a 17 point deficit and beat Xavier in overtime. PC would go on to play Villanova University in the championship game, where PC ultimately lost in yet another overtime thriller. PC’s run in last year’s Big East Tournament demonstrated that lower seeds are capable of making surprise runs in the tournament, given the conference’s lack of disparity between the best and worst teams. That is why there is good reason to believe that Xavier will be the team that wins the 2019 Big East Tournament.

Xavier currently has a record of 16-14 overall and 8-9 in conference play. While these numbers do not reflect a team that has had much success, Xavier has shown sparks late this season that show the team is ready for postseason play. With the departure of previous head coach Chris Mack, it took some time for the Musketeers to adjust to the new play style brought forth by new coach Travis Steele. Through the first 11 Big East games, Xavier had a conference record of 3-8 and looked like a team that had given up. But since then, Xavier has gone on to win five straight Big East games, including a 66-54 win over Villanova and an 84-73 win at St. John’s University.

Xavier’s final regular season game, following a road loss to Butler University and home wins against Seton Hall University and St. John’s University, will be a home game against St. John’s.  What is the leading force behind Xavier’s sudden winning streak? A big part of it can be attributed to the steady stream of quality performances by forward Naji Marshall. During the team’s winning streak, Marshall scored 28 points against Seton Hall University and most recently 31 points against St. John’s at Madison Square Garden. If Marshall can continue his stellar play through the final regular season game and into the Big East Tournament, Xavier will be the team holding the Big East Championship trophy on March 16.