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Friars go down fighting against UVA

Providence gave it their all. Virginia was just better.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Midwest Regional-Virginia vs Syracuse Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

The Providence Friars are a good team.

The Virginia Cavaliers are a great team.

The difference was ultimately prevalent in Virginia’s 63-52 victory Saturday night in the Emerald Coast Classic final.

Providence didn’t play poorly. Far from it, actually, they gave Virginia its biggest test of the young season so far, being the first team to finish the game within 20 points of UVA.

It wasn’t even that Providence’s lack of experience and familiarity doomed them. Virginia is just better. That happens sometimes. Had Providence not dug a hole of 14 points late in the first half, the Friars very well may have been victorious.

There are positive takeaways for the Friars from this game. Jalen Lindsey had his best offensive output of the season, with 18 against an elite Virginia defense. Providence continued to take care of the basketball, turning it over just 10 times. Emmitt Holt is disruptive on both ends of the floor, finishing with 11 points and six rebounds to go along with two steals.

There are negative takeaways for the Friars, as well. Mainly, their zero bench points. It’s understandable that Virginia’s defense is very good, but someone has to be able to make some sort of contribution off the pine, especially when Virginia’s bench was responsible for 20 points.

Virginia played a typical Virginia basketball game. Very slow. Very plodding. It’s what they’ve done for the entire decade. London Perrantes and Darius Thompson led the team with 11 points each.

Providence needed at least one win in the Emerald Coast Classic. They got it. While a win against Virginia would have been nice, the Friars have a very winnable remainder of the nonconference portion, Rhode Island game aside (That game is winnable, but likely more of a coin flip).

The Friars return home to face New Hampshire Wednesday night.