Date: Thursday, November 11
Time: 6:30 p.m.
Friar fans don’t have to wait long to see their team play again this season. Providence hosts Sacred Heart less than 48 hours after opening the year with an 80-73 win over Fairfield.
Both teams enter Thursday night with 1-0 records. Sacred Heart upset La Salle Tuesday night in an overtime thriller to win their first opener since 2015.
The Friars are 6-0 all-time against Sacred Heart, and Ed Cooley has posted a 2-0 record over Anthony Latina. Nate Watson started for Providence as a freshman when these two teams squared off and scored eight points, but an injury forced him to miss the meeting in 2019. A.J. Reeves started in that one, scoring 15 points en route to a 106-60 Friars victory. Fairfield starters Tyler Thomas, Aaron Clarke, and Alex Watson all came off the bench in that 2019 match-up, with Clarke scoring 12 points. Fairfield’s Watson also played in the 2017 meeting, scoring 15 points off the bench.
Nate Watson led all scorers with 22 points against Fairfield, and the Preseason All-Big East First-Teamer will be the player to watch. None of Sacred Heart’s starters last game were taller than 6-foot-6, so the 6-foot-10 Watson should pose issues for the Pioneers in the paint. The fifth-year senior also added six rebounds and a career-high four blocks last time out.
Although the Friars won their first game, Cooley will be looking for a stronger performance in their second time out. With a game against Wisconsin around the corner, now is the time for Providence to tighten up and fix mistakes. The offense turned the ball over 14 times, an increase of more than two turnovers on the team’s average from last year. Fairfield also corralled 11 offensive rebounds, adding extra possessions for the Stags. Combine that with Providence hitting just 22 percent of shots from deep and missing 12 free throws, and this game was much tighter than expected.
If Providence has a similar performance against Sacred Heart, the Pioneers may be looking at another upset win and a 2-0 start for the first time since 2011. But if the dominant Nate Watson has his way again, it’ll be the Friars opening the season with back-to-back wins.