Ranked teams have consistently struggled at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in the past, and Saturday was no different as the #22 Butler Bulldogs fell to the pesky Friars.
Although Butler and Providence got the late 4 o’clock start on Saturday, they couldn’t outrun the dreaded hangover. Both teams started the game a combined 7-35 from the field while shooting around 30% for the half. The Bulldogs came in looking to take sole possession of second place in the Big East following Xavier’s loss to Villanova and hoping to end some of their recent struggles. Unfortunately for Butler, cold shooting to go along with seven first half turnovers would prevent them from finding an early solution. Despite the sloppy start, Holtmann’s team would lead by two at the half.
The rock fight continued in the second half as both teams struggled to find any offensive efficiency. With 13 minutes remaining in the game, neither team had a player in double figures. Nate Fowler would eventually heat up to put an end to this trend. The sophomore center finished with 19 points off the bench to lead the Butler scoring. Making the game ugly was one way for the Friars to stay with the superior Bulldogs, and they did a great job of that today.
With about eight minutes left, the rock fight started to look more like a basketball game as lead change after lead change electrified the Dunkin’ Donuts Center. Andrew Chrabascz became the centerpiece of Butler’s offense down the stretch as the Friars didn’t have an answer for the Rhode Island native underneath. With Holt in foul trouble, Chrabascz was an ideal man to take over down low. His 12 points wouldn’t be enough as Providence finished strong. With a flurry of threes and transition buckets.
Alpha Diallo led the scoring for PC with 15 points as his season long progression continued. Kyron Cartwright finished with 14 points, including two clutch three pointers down the stretch. This young PC team showed a lot of grit in today’s win. Ed Cooley would love for this win to kickstart a hot finish to conference play.
The Kelan Martin regression continued this afternoon as the one-time National Player of the Year candidate struggled coming off of the bench. Chris Holtmann has recently changed Martin’s role, and the junior forward doesn’t seem to be responding well. This will be an interesting storyline as the Bulldogs approach postseason play. There was a clear frustration across the board for Butler late in this game and it showed in Holtmann’s late technical foul. Time will tell if he can right this ship by March.
Providence welcomes Xavier to town Wednesday night while Butler heads home to face St. John’s.