Friars Back in Win Column after 20 Points from Noah Horchler
The Providence College men’s basketball team defeated the Xavier Musketeers, 83-68, on Wednesday, February 24 in Alumni Hall in Providence, R.I. With the win, the Friars improved to 12-11 overall and 8-9 in BIG EAST play.
Junior David Duke (Providence, R.I.) eclipsed 1,000 career points in the win, with 18 points, as well as nine assists and nine rebounds. Senior Noah Horchler (Melbourne Beach, Fla.) scored a season-high 20 points and added nine rebounds. Horchler had a presence on both ends of the floor in the game. Five Friars scored in double figures in the win.
“I think that was our most complete game from start-to-finish of the season,” Head Coach Ed Cooley said.
At the 19:45 mark, Horchler knocked down a jumper to open the game. Nate Watson (Portsmouth, Va.) and Duke also scored in the first stretch. Providence held an early 8-6 lead at the 15:30 media timeout.
The Friars’ defense forced four Xavier turnovers within the first six minutes of play, including a steal by Ed Croswell (Philadelphia, Pa.) at the 14:09 mark. The steal led to a three-point basket by Jared Bynum (Largo, Md.) on the offensive end. The Friars extended their lead to 13-6.
With 9:05 left in the half, Xavier used a timeout after Duke and A.J. Reeves (Roxbury, Mass.) buried three-pointers on back-to-back possessions. Shortly after the timeout, Reeves made another from deep. The Musketeers responded with a 7-0 scoring run. The Friars led 25-19.
Both teams were in a cold streak from the field heading into the 2:57 timeout. By the final stretch of the half, each team got back in the scoring column. At the 1:59 mark, Horchler added a three-pointer to end a Friar scoring drought of over two minutes.
“Today I thought we clicked on all cylinders and came together as a team,” Horchler said.
The Friars led at halftime, 35-25. Providence shot 14-30 (46.7%) from the field, 6-13 (46.2%) from three, and 1-2 (50.0%) from the free throw line. Xavier shot 11-30 (36.7%) from the field, 1-9 (11.1%) from three, and 2-2 (100%) from the free throw line.
It was a back-and-forth game at the beginning of the second half, however, Xavier started to narrow the deficit. Watson scored the first two baskets for Providence. The Friars led 41-35 at the 15:41 timeout.
The teams continued to trade baskets as the second half progressed. With 13:05 remaining, Horchler threw down a highlight dunk. Xavier’s Paul Scruggs answered with a three-point play. The Friars maintained a 49-43 lead.
In a stretch starting at the 7:57 mark, both teams made a series of baskets from three-point territory. Adam Kunkel and Zach Freemantle each converted from deep for the Musketeers. Meanwhile, the Friars capitalized from beyond the arc on three consecutive possessions. The Friars led by double-digits, 69-59, at the 5:54 timeout.
“I think this was the stretch of the game that I saw us grow and develop,” Cooley mentioned. “We matured in that situation, where we didn’t get nervous and just trusted what we were running.”
With 3:05 to play, Duke notched a deep three-pointer from the left wing. The Friars maintained their lead to close out the game.
Providence finished 29-54 (53.7%) from the field, 11-21 (52.4%) from three, and 14-17 (82.4%) from the free throw line. Xavier finished 27-61 (44.3%) from the field, 3-17 (17.6%) from three, and 11-15 (73.3%) from the free throw line. Zach Freemantle and Paul Scruggs combined for 46 points for the Musketeers.
The Friars finished with five players in double-figures, in Horchler, Duke, Reeves (16 points), Watson (15 points), and Bynum (10 points). Xavier’s Zach Freemantle registered a game-high 12 rebounds. The Friars out-rebounded and out-assisted the Musketeers in the game.
“The game is about toughness, and toughness travels,” Cooley added. “You’re not going to make all of your shots but if you defend, rebound, and play with a purpose, you’re going to give yourself an opportunity to win basketball games.”
Up next, the Friars head to Queens, N.Y. to take on the St. John’s Red Storm. The game is set for tip-off on Wednesday, March 3 at 7 p.m. and is televised on CBS Sports Network.