The Providence Friars are still flying high this week.
After defeating the Sacred Heart Pioneers by 46 points earlier this week, the Friars were tasked with hosting the NJIT Highlanders on Saturday. While they didn’t win by that many points this time around, they were still hardly challenged and soundly defeated NJIT, 76-47.
In the early goings, NJIT packed a bit of a punch. Zach Cooks started off with a 3-pointer to give them an early lead. San Antonio Brinson followed him up on the ensuing possession with a 3-pointer of his own, and the Highlanders held a 6-2 lead. A few minutes later, Kjell de Graaf slammed one home to make it 8-8.
Unfortunately for NJIT though, this would be the last time the game was tied. A 3-pointer by David Duke and a layup by Maliek White widened PC’s lead up to five points. Brinson cut into that lead with another 3-pointer to make it a three point game again after, but Emmitt Holt widened things up with a layup to push it up to five. White followed in with a layup of his own a minute and a half later, and the Friars were off to the races from there,
The second half started with seven points from Cooks and a layup from Reilly Walsh that cut PC’s lead down to nine. But the Friars then went on a 16-0 run that pretty much iced things up from there. They hit four 3-pointers on this run — by four different players no less (Diallo, Duke, Holt, White) — coupled with two jumpers by Duke.
Speaking of, David Duke erupted in the second half. He dropped 15 points on the Highlanders on a mark of 6-for-8 from the field. Duke’s 21 points on the whole were the most in the game by any player on either side. They were also a career high for the New England native, as he edged the 20-point showing he had versus the South Carolina Gamecocks a year ago.
Duke also matched a career-best mark in 3-pointers made, as he hit three of them. He had also hit a trio of 3-pointers twice before, having done so against the DePaul Blue Demons on February 2 and against the Seton Hall Pirates back on January 15. He added five rebounds, five assists and two blocks to his line, too.
After going for 19 & 14 in the first game of the year, Alpha Diallo had yet another double-double on Saturday. He scored 15 points against the Highlanders and pulled down 10 rebounds, six of which coming on the offensive glass. The double-double was the 18th of his career in Friartown thus far. Alpha also had two assists, two blocks and three steals, going for a really complete day at the office.
Diallo has been a terror on the offensive boards thus far, having come away with 13 in the early goings. His OR% is at an impressive 21.2 percent this year, as he’s off to a very, very strong start on the boards.
The third player to enter double figures on the day for the Friars was Maliek White. The senior guard scored 11 points off the bench on a mark of 4-for-6 from the field and 2-for-4 from beyond the arc. White has hit double figures in each of the first two games this season, having scored 10 points against Sacred Heart. This was the 14th time in his career that White hit the double figure plateau.
Kalif Young may have only scored four points, but the senior swingman stepped up in other areas. Young had eight rebounds — four on offense and four on defense — an assist, two blocks and no turnovers in 25 minutes of action. He did get into some foul trouble, finishing with four fouls, but was still an excellent contributor nonetheless. A.J. Reeves had a little bit of a sluggish day, finishing with just six points, but went 4-for-6 from the FT line, had three boards, three assists and a steal.
Luwane Pipkins scored four points in his second game as a Friar, but still made an impact on the statsheet elsewhere. Pipkins had three steals, matching the amount that Diallo had, and five assists, matching Duke’s output in that department. Pipkins now has an assist rate of a gaudy 36.7 percent and a Steal% of 7.3 percent. What’s more? Pipkins has played 45 minutes of basketball and hasn’t recorded a single turnover yet.
The Friars are looking very sharp in just about all areas so far. They’ve been adept at shot blocking and preventing their opponents from scoring in bunches. Tey’ve allowed just 107 points on the year to the 182 they’ve scored on offense. Their defensive ranks in the early goings on KenPom look very good, especially their nation’s best Block% of 27.7 percent. For their efforts, they are currently ranked 18th on KenPom at this juncture.
The Friars will next play the Northwestern Wildcats on Wednesday. The game is one of many that are part of the 2019 Gavitt Tip-Off Games. They will be seeking their first 3-0 start to a season since 2015-16 and the fifth under head coach Ed Cooley.