It’s officially December which means the holiday season is here, and the Providence Friars wasted no time giving an early gift to Big EastBIG EAST fans, leading off the Big East - Big 12 Battle with a huge win over Texas Tech.
The story of this one was perhaps unfamiliar to Friar fans in some aspects, as Nate Watson and Noah Horchler, the team’s MVPs as of late, did not produce their typical stat-stuffing performances. Watson was swarmed from the tip and the team had some issues getting him going offensively – credit to Texas Tech’s stifling defense. Instead, Ed Cooley looked to his bench and asked backup center, Ed Croswell, to provide some big minutes, and he did just that. The 6’8” transfer from LaSalle produced a Providence career-high eleven points, without missing any shots from the field. The big man also tallied two blocks, and served as a key piece defensively, slotting in at power forward in some instances, with Watson playing down low at the five. In the post-game press conference, Ed Cooley referred to Croswell as the player of the game, and rightfully so.
The Friars also had some major contributions from their backcourt, with fifth-year Indiana transfer, Al Durham, and senior, A.J. Reeves, providing critical minutes. Durham produced a Providence career-high twenty-three points, and only missed one free throw in thirteen attempts. The former Hoosier was red hot in the second half and was certainly playing the best ball of his Friar career. On a night when starting point guard, Jared Bynum, was out due to an ankle injury, Durham stepped up in a major way, taking ownership of the ball-handling duties and stepping up big time for some clutch baskets.
Over on the wing, A.J. Reeves produced a huge night, logging fourteen points and grabbing eight boards. This was a huge “get right” game for the senior, who had been under the weather during the team’s trip to Newark last week. After the Virginia game, Ed Cooley said that Reeves hadn’t been feeling well and “wasn’t playing his best ball.” However, based on last night’s performance, it is safe to say that Reeves must be feeling much better and has certainly increased his intensity on the court.
On a night when the Friars trailed by fourteen points in the first half, the value of homecourt advantage was certainly felt by the team. Ed Cooley once again credited the roaring crowd for the team’s mid-game surge that brought them over the hump and helped them tighten up the game. Cooley even credited some of the team’s tougher baskets to the crowd, and once again emphasized the importance of playing in front of fans
The fans will certainly be back for more, as the Friars have a quick turnaround, hosting in-state rival, URI, this Saturday at 2 PM.