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Providence holds off Holy Cross 70-61

The Friars improve to 2-1 on the season.

NCAA Basketball: Siena at Providence Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

The Providence Friars came into Tuesday night’s matchup with Holy Cross looking to get back on the right track after falling to Wichita St. last Friday in the 2018 Veterans Classic. They did just that by fighting off a pesky Crusaders team by a score of 70-61.

First Half

The Friars were sloppy out of the gates, committing 4 turnovers in the first 4:30 of the game. Ed Cooley and his staff clearly did their homework, as Providence made it a point to be active around the rim in the early going. The Crusaders are one of the smaller teams in the country, so the Friars needed their frontcourt to be as active as possible.

Holy Cross used their size, or lack thereof, to their advantage, controlling the pace for a large part of the game’s first ten minutes. The Crusaders used Providence switches to create mismatches on the offensive end and found themselves right in this one.

It didn’t take too much for that however, as the Friars defense has looked extremely suspect so far this season. A lack of energy and ability to play man-to-man are factors that have plagued Providence across their first three games of the 2018-19 season. Below average backcourt defense and a combination of turnovers put the Friars behind for a majority of the first half. Ed Cooley’s squad was fortunate to avoid a big run from Holy Cross during their scoreless drought that lasted for close to 5 minutes. The Friars’ stagnant offense really struggled against the Crusaders’ hybrid zone over that span, which was a big reason why Providence ended the first half with 10 turnovers.

A late push helped PC gain some ground before the break, but the Crusaders led 37-33 at the half thanks to 12 points from sophomore wing Jacob Grandison.

Second Half

David Duke started the half on the bench thanks to 3 early fouls, but found himself back on the floor after just 4:25 thanks to a lackluster start to the second frame that briefly put the Friars behind by 7. Cooley’s switch to zone followed by a 6-0 lit a fire under Providence and the Dunkin’ Donuts Center crowd. Cooley also elected to keep Maliek White on the floor (in place of AJ Reeves) after Duke’s substitution, whose aggressiveness helped the Friars’ resurgence.

Holy Cross struggled in the second half on Saturday against Michigan, and the same issue arose on Tuesday in Rhode Island. Providence went on a 20-2 run over a 7-minute span to take control of this game without looking back. They forced Bill Carmondy to take his final timeout with 8:09 remaining in the game, but Grandison and sophomore Caleb Green would manage to keep the Crusaders within striking distance.

Jehyve Floyd fouled out with 4:37 remaining, knocking out their main big man and allowing Providence to take control inside for the rest of this one.

Game notes:

  • Providence looked extremely slow and sluggish in man-to-man, just like they did on Saturday against Wichita St. Zone could very well be the move for Ed Cooley for the time being.
  • Alpha Diallo led the scoring for Providence with 18 points on 6/15 shooting, in addition to 10 rebounds and 3 assists. Nate Watson was 6/7 from the floor with 15 points and 7 rebounds.
  • David Duke played arguably his best game of the young season, finishing with 10 points in 30 minutes.
  • Maliek White was terrific for Cooley off the bench, finishing with 8 points and 5 assists in 25 minutes of action.
  • Both teams finished with 14 turnovers apiece.
  • Jacob Grandison had 17 points to lead Holy Cross.

Providence heads to Mohegan Sun this weekend to face South Carolina at 2:30 PM EST in game two of the Hall of Fame’s Air Force Reserve Tip-off Tournament.