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Providence Edges Butler, 69-62

Nate Watson’s 18-points led the Friars to their twelfth home victory.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: JAN 23 Butler at Providence Photo by M. Anthony Nesmith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Ed Cooley’s Friars made history this Sunday, earning a well-fought victory over the Butler Bulldogs, improving to 16-2 overall and 6-1 in Big East play. This Providence squad is the first team since 1978 to boast a 16-2 record, and the first in school history to hold a 6-1 record in conference play at this point in the season. But the record-setting doesn’t stop there, as this win also marks Ed Cooley’s 210th as the Providence head coach, passing the late-great Dave Gavitt, for second-most wins in Providence College head coaching history.

This was a must-win game for both teams – Butler came into this one riding a three-game skid, all against ranked opponents, while the Friars came into this one riding a two-game win streak, separated by twelve days of COVID pause. Despite the outcome, a lot of credit should be given to LaVall Jordan’s Butler squad. Jordan had his players performing at their best since the dawn of the season, and this game could have been a crucial turning point for a team on the brink of finding its identity. The Bulldogs were led by Chuck Harris (21-points), Bo Hodges (17-points, 8-rebounds), and Bryce Golden (11-points, 5-rebounds). Up next for Butler is a home matchup against Creighton this upcoming Wednesday.

As for the Friars, this was definitely a tough game – against a desperate opponent – but nonetheless another shining example of this team’s depth and veteran leadership. This was a game that saw six friars scoring 8 or more points, with four of those six friars scoring in double figures.

Nate Watson led the way for the Friars, logging 18-points on 7-for-12 shooting. Watson also tallied 8-rebounds and 2-blocks. But perhaps Watson’s most impressive feat from the day is one that does not show up on the stat sheet, an emphatic alley-oop slam in transition from Jared Bynum. The fifth-year center continues to serve as this team’s horse, and this game was another prime example of his leadership and seniority.

A few other notable stats from this afternoon: forwards Justin Minaya and Noah Horchler each logged 40 minutes of playing time, while adding a combined 17-points and 16-rebounds (8 boards apiece). Off-the-bench, Jared Bynum and Ed Croswell each logged 10-points, Croswell doing so while going a perfect 5-for-5 from the floor. This is now the second consecutive game where Ed Croswell has not missed a field goal attempt (he went 7-for-7 in Thursday’s matchup against Georgetown). Al Durham also contributed 12-points in thirty-seven minutes of playing time (second most behind Horchler and Minaya).

Providence will need to maintain this balanced approach, as this upcoming week presents two high-level games at Xavier, and at home against Marquette. For now, the team will have a few days off, before flying out to Cincinnati to take on 20th-ranked Xavier this Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.