Despite a cloud of disappointment hanging over them all season, the Providence Friars ended the 2018-19 regular season on a high note.
The Friars did so by knocking off the Butler Bulldogs at The Dunk 83-70 on Saturday afternoon.
The game was pretty well contested at the start. The two teams traded punches, although the Friars were hitting a little bit harder. Then, Isaiah Jackson took over for a spurt. Jackson scored 11 consecutive points, including three 3-pointers, over a 3:20 span in the game.
A layup by Maliek White gave the Friars a 27-11 lead backed on a strong 13-0 run. Their lead swelled to as much as 24 points by the 1:11 mark, when they led 48-24 following an Alpha Diallo layup. Christian David hit a 3-pointer to cut it to 21 as they headed into the break.
But by then, it was all over but the crying. Their lead got to as large as 28 points at one point in the second half, as the Dawgs just couldn’t quite keep the Friars down.
Providence’s 17th win of the season and seventh in Big East play came on the back of a strong performance by A.J. Reeves. While Reeves’ season was taken down several notches by an injury that hampered him, Reeves too ended the year by landing safely.
He scored a game-high 24 points and was 6-for-8 from beyond 3-point range. It marked the second time he’d scored 24 points in a game (the first coming all the way back on December 4, when he dropped that total against the Boston College Eagles). It did not match the season-high he hit on Day 1 against the Siena Saints, but nevertheless, Reeves was brilliant.
A.J.’s efforts were complemented by the work of one Isaiah Jackson. In his final game in Friartown, Jackson scored 20 points and missed just three shots from the field. He went 3-for-3 from 3-point range and 3-for-3 from the free throw line, as well. It was his second consecutive 20-point game, having scored 21 in the loss to the Creighton Bluejays last time around. It’s also just the third time he’s scored at least 20 points in his entire career, as he fell shy of his career-best 22 that he scored all the way back on December 23, 2014 against the Wright State Raiders while he was a member of the George Mason Patriots. Jackson certainly went out with a bang as a Friar, and he’ll have a chance to perhaps top that mark in the Big East Tournament.
Also getting into double figures was Alpha Diallo. Diallo scored 11 points on nine shots from the floor. He also grabbed a game-high nine rebounds to fall just shy of a double-double.
Butler’s efforts were headed mostly by Paul Jorgensen, Kamar Baldwin and Joey Brunk. Jorgensen, Baldwin and Brunk teamed up for 45 of the 70 points the Dawgs scored. The problem was what they got form everyone else. Bryce Golden scored seven points, which was the next closest mark that anyone on the team had.
Two others — Sean McDermott and Aaron Thompson — scored five points, two others — Jordan Tucker and Christian David — had three, and Nate Fowler had two. Butler’s O just wasn’t as efficient or as prodigious as the Friars’, and that ultimately cost them dearly.
The loss for Butler seats them down at 10th in the Big East standings at the moment, meaning they will play on Wednesday night. Providence will be as well, but they will be playing in the 8-9 game, most likely. The status on the DePaul Blue Demons is yet to be seen, as BU holds a head-to-head tiebreaker over them, having swept them this season. So, we’ll see how things shake out. But while one team was able to land on their feet after a disappointing season, another couldn’t quite secure themselves.