The Providence Friars just keep on rolling.
The Friars scored their fifth straight win and seventh in their last nine games on Wednesday night. They came away with an 80-74 win over the Xavier Musketeers, propping themselves up to 18-12 on the season and a very gaudy 11-6 record in Big East play.
Providence moved quickly in this one, jumping out to a wide lead from the jump. Luwane Pipkins, Alpha Diallo, A.J. Reeves, David Duke and Nate Watson helped the Friars hop out to a 22-8 lead in the opening minutes. The 14-point advantage was a tough one for Xavier to overcome. But to their credit, they chipped away a little bit, but the lead swelled up to 15 points by the 7:49 mark.
Things did pivot in Xavier’s direction after that though. Providence would score 14 points the rest of the way to Xavier’s 20. The Friars found themselves up by nine at the half, but it certainly felt like they could have been up by more if not for the late surge by the Musketeers.
Xavier got in a groove yet again as the second half began. They cut the lead down to just one point after outscoring Providence 12-4 in the opening 4:33. Xavier would then creep back to within one again a few times down the way, and kept things close as they went blow for blow. But Diallo and Pipkins were integral down the stretch. Diallo scored eight points int he final 7:10 of the game and Pipkins had a crucial five-point run from 1:11 to 0:27. As a result, the Friars netted a wire-to-wire win that was uber impressive to say the least.
Three players got into double figures for Providence on Wednesday. Leading the way were Pipkins and Diallo, who scored 25 and 23 points respectively. Duke scored 16 points of his own, as the trio combined for 64 of the team’s 80 points on the night. Reeves scored seven points while Nate Watson, Greg Gantt, Kalif Young and Emmitt Holt all packed in at least two points.
Naji Marshall had a team-best 25 points on the night for Xavier. He was joined in double figures by Zach Freemantle, who put up 13 points, and KyKy Tandy, who dropped in 11. Quentin Goodin scored eight and Tyrique Jones had nine, but obviously it was all not enough to secure a win.
Providence can finish the season strong if they can knock the DePaul Blue Demons off on Saturday in Friartown. Senior Day means it will be the last time Friar fans will be able to see the likes of Diallo, Pipkins, Young, Holt and Maliek White suit up. For Xavier, they’ll have a chance to get right as they face the Butler Bulldogs on Saturday in Cincinnati.