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Balanced scoring effort leads Providence past Sacred Heart

The Friars came out strong and never looked back

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Four-Providence vs Southern California Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Providence Friars cruised to an easy victory over the Sacred Heart Pioneers to open their season Tuesday evening at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center, winning by a score of 106-60.

Seven different Friars scored at least ten points in the win, with Alpha Diallo leading the way with 19, to go along with a game-high 14 rebounds for his 17th career double-double. Diallo looks like he’s going to be a problem for fellow Big East teams this year, not unlike point guard Luwane Pipkins.

Pipkins set the tone early for the Friars, knocking down a pair of threes in the first few minutes of the game before finishing with 13 points (three three-pointers) and seven assists, looking like the point guard Providence was so desperately missing last season. Pipkins’ ability to play mistake free (zero turnovers!) basketball propped up the rest of the offense and helped the Friars knock down 16 threes, their most in a game since a December 2017 against St. John’s. Pipkins and Diallo each had three of the threes, but AJ Reeves also had three, as he played what was perhaps his best game since returning from last year’s foot injury. The sophomore standout finished with 15 points on 6-10 shooting in just 22 minutes of action.

Despite Pipkins’ excellenence in assisting, he wasn’t the Friars’ leading assist man. That designation goes to sophomore David Duke, who flirted with a triple-double Tuesday evening, finishing with 11 points, six rebounds, and eight assists, just one shy of his career-high of nine.

If there were any questions about Emmitt Holt’s health, the sixth-year senior answered them Tuesday night, dropping 16 points and playing 21 minutes, his most since Providence’s 2018 NCAA Tournament loss to USC.

Sacred Heart forward EJ Anosike finished with 20 points.

The Friars are 1-0 for the ninth time in nine years under Ed Cooley. They’ll be back in action Saturday against NJIT.