Two weeks ago, making the NCAA Tournament seemed virtually impossible for the Providence Friars. Following their 73-64 victory over the DePaul Blue Demons on Tuesday night though, Ed Cooley’s team finds themselves with control of their own destiny and sitting in a position that would place them in the Big Dance.
This is all great and exciting, but let’s get one thing straight: tonight was Casey Woodring’s night. The lone Providence senior from Darien, Connecticut celebrated his final game at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center Tuesday night. Students donned t-shirts with his enlarged team headshot on them too! So before we recap tonight’s Big East matchup, congratulations to Casey Woodring on a tremendous four years. 11 career points in 40 minutes never meant so much.
The first half was an odd one, consisting of a whole lot of slop, as the two teams traded scoring droughts for the first ten minutes or so. The Friars were able to find their offensive efficiency thanks to Jalen Lindsey’s threes and Isaiah Jackson’s aggressive play with about nine minutes to go. Getting to the charity strike also helped Cooley’s club, as the Friars went 10-11 from the line in the first half. Despite Providence’s 11-point lead heading into the break, turnovers were the storyline of the opening frame. A combined 24 giveaways made for sloppy play, but this Friars team seems to thrive in ugly games.
DePaul continued to try and play the role of spoiler in the second half, cutting the deficit to seven with 13 minutes remaining as they took advantage of a three minute scoring drought for Providence. The Blue Demons wouldn’t get much closer though, as the Friars’ lead was back to 18 in the blink of an eye. This was spurred by a 12-2 Providence run led by Emmitt Holt and Kyron Cartwright. After a late-game meltdown earlier this season at DePaul, the Friars made sure to evade the same result tonight.
Cooley’s group produced one of their more widespread efforts, getting significant contributions from all over the scoresheet. Cartwight, Holt, Lindsey and Rodney Bullock all finished in double figures with 14, 14, 12, and 13 respectively.
Saying this was an ugly game would be putting it politely, but the Friars avoided a disastrous loss and continued their win streak heading into March. The final test before the Big East Tournament is a trip to MSG where Providence concludes its regular season against the St. John’s Red Storm. Closing out with a win in the Big Apple will put PC in good shape come Selection Sunday.
DePaul looks to play spoiler one final time this season as they wrap up the regular season against Chris Mack’s struggling Xavier Musketeers.