When Ed Cooley entered the Dunkin' Donuts Center today, I don't think he anticipated the result he would see from his team.
The first half would set the tone for the entire game. The absence of Navy's best player Worth Smith, who injured his kneecap when they faced Michigan State, was a tremendous difference maker. Tom Lacey fouling out in the first half did not hurt either.
Kris Dunn started off extremely well, and you knew it was going to be his night. He was making unbelievable assists and looked incredibly adept at finding the right man at the right time all night long. His performance would only get better as the night went on.
One improvement that was made tonight was the obvious improvement and proper substitution of the freshmen. Ben Bentil was an animal on the glass, while Paschal Chuckwu would had some great dunks, including an alley-oop from Kyron Cartwright. Jalen Lindsey made his first 3-pointer of the season, hopefully getting some confidence before traveling to Mohegan Sun this weekend before facing much better teams in Florida State and Notre Dame.
The defensive intensity of all the Friars was through the roof for most of the game. A problem for Providence in their first two games has been coming out sluggish in the first half, and there was no indication of that for the entire game.
The Friars led Navy 40-20 in the first half, yet the best was yet to come.
Their offense looked infinitely better compared to their last game against Binghamton and Kris Dunn had arguably,his best game as a Friar. Kris had a career high with 14 assists and 12 points with his first 3-pointer since the 2012-13 season, back when Notre Dame and Syracuse were in the Big East. This is huge for Kris because he has been looking forward to this weekend's tournament at Mohegan Sun since he committed to Providence. Mohegan Sun is about twenty miles away from his home and I'm sure he will want to impress all of his friends from New London against Notre Dame and Florida State. He should have all the confidence in the world after having his best game as a Friar.
A flaw that Providence has had early in the season has been their lapses on the defensive side of the floor. Tonight, the Friars defensive effort was there from start to finish.
The biggest surprise of the night definitely came from freshman standout Ben Bentil. He finished with a game-high 18 points while recording six rebounds, four of them where offensive. Did I not mention that he drained two three pointers which no one, not even Ed Cooley expected? Having a 6-foot-8 230 pound power forward who can make a three or two a game will be something Providence has not had in years. He looked like one of the best players on the floor and he will develop into one of the best players in the Big East within the next few years.
If the Friars can have Kris Dunn, Tyler Harris, LaDontae Henton, and Ben Bentil score in double figures the rest of the Big East better watch out. Lastly, watching senior walk-on Ted Bancroft hit two threes at the end of the game, which was a perfect ending to the Friars 88-51 win.
Ladontae Henton (22), Tyler Harris (11), Kris Dunn (12), and Ben Bentil (18) all scored in double figures.
Kris Dunn led the team with 7 rebounds.
The 88-51 was the Friars largest margin of victory in over a year.