NEWARK, NJ - The Legends Classic at the Prudential Center on Monday saw Virginia defeat Georgia 65-55 in the opening game. In a close contested meeting the Cavaliers were able to seal the deal outscoring Georgia by an 18-9 count over the final eight minutes. On the sidelines for the Georgia Bulldogs was a familiar face of Big East lore- Tom Crean who formerly guided the fortunes of Marquette.
In the nightcap we had a Big East-Big Ten matchup with Providence and Northwestern squaring off.
First half: Inside-out. First possession Providence looks low to Nate Watson who finishes in the lane. Ensuing possessions see two three pointers by Jared Bynum. At the 16 minute mark PC leads 10-4 with Bynum having scored eight of those points.
Friars continue to go into Watson who is a matchup problem for Northwestern. Coach Chris Collins calls time out at the eleven minute mark as his group trails 19-6. PC is shooting 62% from the floor while the opposing Wildcats struggle at 27%.
Northwestern comes out of the time out in a zone. One objective is to slow down Watson. Northwestern scores six straight, PC coach Ed Cooley calls time out. No change in defense for Cooley, just a break to stem the Wildcat run.
Zone is doubling on Watson down low. Providence is patient, making several passes and content to take the open three. Friars found the range from deep and at the 4 minute mark they lead 30-17.
Northwestern's big Ryan Young providing most of the Wildcat scoring, mostly on pick and rolls. Wildcats found the range the final few minutes of the half. For the half they finished shooting 42% from the floor. Friars shot 50% overall and 50% as well from beyond the arc.
Halftime: Providence 36 Northwestern 27
Second Half: More inside-outside. At the 16 minute mark Providence has an eleven pint lead. Two post ups by Watson are complimented by three pointers by Bynum and Justin Minaya. Northwestern zones again and Watson steps out to hit a few mid range jumpers. The 6'10" senior is also active on the glass. With just over 13 minutes left Northwestern is looking at a 15 point deficit.
Ten minute mark Northwestern is down 12 but showing signs of life. While the Wildcats find the range, Providence begins making poor decisions and turning the ball over. A less than thrilled Cooley calls for time out with the lead at nine and just over nine minutes left.
Just over five to go and a ten point PC lead. Northwestern is attacking the basket. Finish and/or draw a foul. Wildcats also looking to run on a Providence miss. A two possession difference, Providence comes up with two big stops and Noah Horchler drains a three at the opposite end. Three to go and Providence leads by nine.
Another trey by Horchler puts the lead at a dozen with just over two to go. Could be your proverbial 'dagger'. Northwestern still refuses to go away. With Pete Nance and Boo Buie leading the way, the Wildcats are within five with 36 seconds to play. Friars face full court pressure. Providence's Horchler ices it with two three throws with seven seconds left.
Final: Providence 77 Northwestern 72
Providence improves to 5-0 while Northwestern is now 4-1.
Buie led all scorers with 23 points. Nance added 20. Watson paced PC with 16 and 5 boards.