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Friars roll on, beat Creighton 85-71

Don’t look now, but Providence has won four straight.

NCAA Basketball: Creighton at Providence Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

Creighton entered Saturday’s matchup coming off of a big 17-point victory over Seton Hall this past Wednesday. It wasn’t all good news for Greg McDermott’s squad however, as they received word that sophomore Martin Krampelj would miss the remainder of the season due to a torn ACL.

Providence on the other hand came in winners of 3 in a row, looking to ride their hot streak. They did just that, thanks to energetic defense, timely shots, and a ruckus home crowd.

First Half

Providence came out of the gate hot, going 4/4 from the field, while getting to the rim with ease. The Friars were extremely active on the defensive end, causing Creighton to go on a five minute scoreless span. They had 3 blocks in the first six minutes of this one and managed to slow down the Bluejays’ normally up-tempo pace.

The Friars used that defense to spark a 10-0 run, which gave them a 18-7 lead at the 12 minute mark of the half. Creighton turned around with a quick 9-0 run in less than 60 seconds to get right back in it. The scoreless streaks were contagious, as Providence fell into a 2 minute scoreless spell shortly thereafter.

Maliek White checked in for the Friars with just under 6 minutes remaining in the half to a nice ovation from the crowd. This was his first game action since December 6th vs Brown. He hit his first three with under 2 minutes left in the half.

The Bluejays used an 18-7 run to tie the game at 25 with 4 minutes remaining. Much of this was thanks to freshman Mitch Ballock, who provided a much needed spark off the bench. He had 9 points in 13 first half minutes. Their pick-and-roll offense created some ideal matchups which allowed them to score with ease.

Providence pushed back in the final two minutes and went into the break with a 36-33 lead. This was a win for the Bluejays, as they shot just 29% over the first frame. Their 11 to 5 free throw advantage over the Friars allowed them to keep it tight.

Despite going 2/6 from the floor, Marcus Foster led the first half scoring for Creighton with 11 points. Rodney Bullock took just 4 shots, but finished the half with 10 to lead the way for PC.

Second Half

Creighton was able to take the lead 2 minutes into the second half, but the Friars quickly answered, shooting 6/12 from the field over the first 6 minutes.

The Friars used a 16-6 run to take a 54-45 lead 7 minutes into the half. Isaiah Jackson checked into the game around the 15 minute mark having played just 4 minutes in the first half. His defensive presence helped Providence stretch their lead to 10, along with his quick 5 point contribution. Jackson would finish with 11 points on the afternoon.

Providence led by 11 with 6:30 left, but the Bluejays refused to go away. They cut into the deficit via a 7-0 run to make this a 67-63 game with 4:52 left. Every time the Friars would go on a run, Creighton would immediately respond, often culminating with a Foster dribble-drive along the baseline.

Both teams would trade punches down the stretch, but the Bluejays weren’t able to get over the hump.

Game Notes

  • Foster continued his solid offensive campaign, finishing with 22 points. He was 7/7 from the charity stripe.
  • Alpha looked comfortable and aggressive all afternoon. He had 21 points and 10 rebounds and also did this:
  • Kalif Young was 2/3 on jumpers this afternoon - definitely worth noting. The big man had 8 points and 5 rebounds in his second straight start.
  • Nate Watson had a career-high 20 points at Creighton earlier this month. The freshman had 3 points in his second meeting with the Bluejays.
  • For those wondering, there were personnel from the Spurs, Wizards, Thunder, and Celtics at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center on Saturday afternoon
  • Attendance was 12,927. The sellout was the largest crowd of the season at the Dunk and was the third straight PC home game with 12K plus.