Coming off a win over eleventh-ranked Arizona, Providence entered Sunday's game with their sights set on potentially knocking off the third-ranked Michigan State Spartans in the Championship round of the Wooden Legacy in Anaheim, California. In a game that was back-and-forth, and close to the end, it was the Spartans who were able to walk away with the win by a score of 77-64.
Though scoreline might suggest Michigan State had the game with ease, the truth was it was a close back and forth game with 12 lead changes and a slight twist that affected the final minutes of the game. Late in the second half with Providence down 59-57, Junior Lomomba shot a three to seemingly beat the shot clock. It was reviewed and waved off. Had that shot counted, we might be looking at a different scoreline or even a Providence upset, but unfortunately he was unable to get the ball off in time. Still though, it was a close contest that also featured the skills of Kris Dunn and Denzel Valentine.
Despite the loss, Dunn and Ben Bentil once again shined for the Friars. Both would finish as the highest scorers in the game, as Dunn finished with a game leading 21 points on 8-of-19 shooting and 3-of-6 from the foul line. Bentil followed Dunn's night with a 20 point game, going 8-of-16 shooting and 3-of-3 from the foul line. Bentil also finished with a game leading seven rebounds. Despite having great games and being essentially the bulk for the Friars on the court tonight, they were also among five total players for Providence to finish with four fouls, in what could have been serious trouble for Ed Cooley's team given a lack of depth on the roster.
As a team, Providence shot 47% from all areas of the floor, 40% from three point range, and 67% from the foul line. They were out-rebounded on the boards with only 28 to Michigan State's 35, and in most point production areas were overmatched by the Spartans. The lone exception was points in the paint, where Providence did excel with 28 of their 64 points coming within the paint.
For the Spartans, this game was just a continuation of their stellar start to the season. They saw solid minutes from several players tonight, with Bryn Forbes leading the way with a team-leading 18 points. His efforts were followed up by those of Denzel Valentine who finished with 17 points and tied for the team lead in rebounds with six. Deyonta Davis and Eron Harris also had great games, both finishing with 12 points. As a team the Spartans shot 47% from all areas of the floor, 32% from three point range, and 69% from the foul line, in a nearly identical stat line to that of Friars.
While it would have been nice for Providence to end their Feast Week on a high note with a win over the Spartans, they still had a stellar week and are a team to watch out for going forward. Ed Cooley's squad has a lot of potential, and this week had it all on display.