PC’s Comeback Against #11 Creighton Falls Short
The Providence College men’s basketball team was defeated by the No. 11/10 Creighton Bluejays, 67-65, on Saturday, January 2 at Alumni Hall in Providence, R.I. The Friars fall to 7-4 overall and 3-2 in BIG EAST play. David Duke (Providence, R.I.) and Nate Watson (Portsmouth, Va.) each had a team-high 13 points to lead the Friars.
“We had a 10-minute stretch at the beginning and end of the game where I thought we played really well,” Head Coach Ed Cooley said. “We executed late, but in transition they made a really good play to get the win.”
At the 18:26 mark, David Duke (Providence, R.I.) scored first for the Friars with a three-point basket from the corner. The Friars started the game 2-8 from the field, while the Bluejays started 3-4. The game was tied at seven at the first media timeout.
Following the timeout, Duke stole the ball and finished on the offensive end with a highlight dunk. In under a minute, Jimmy Nichols, Jr. (Conway S.C.) contributed with a dunk of his own for his second bucket of the game.
With 11:28 left in the first half, Greg Gantt (Fayetteville, N.C.) knocked down a three-pointer. The Friars regained the lead, 16-14, entering the next media timeout. Gantt finished with nine points and five rebounds in the game.
Providence went on a 9-2 run over the course of nearly three minutes. A.J. Reeves (Roxbury, Mass.) and Noah Horchler (Melbourne Beach, Fla.) added their first three-pointers of the game on consecutive possessions to extend the Friars lead to 22-15 with 9:31 remaining in the first. Reeves finished with 10 points in the game and Horchler finished with 12.
Creighton returned the favor with a 15-0 run over a five-minute span, capped off by a Damien Jefferson jumper. With 3:02 left in the half, Reeves broke a five-minute Friars scoring drought with a three-pointer. The Bluejays held the lead, 33-27. To close the first half, Creighton’s Mitch Ballock knocked down a deep three-pointer at the buzzer.
The Bluejays led at halftime, 40-32. Providence shot 12-34 (35.3%) from the field, 6-15 (40.0%) from three, and 2-4 (50.0%) from the free throw line. Creighton shot 15-30 (50.0%) from the field, 7-15 (46.7%) from three, and 3-4 (75.0%) from the free throw line.
At the 19:18 mark, Nate Watson (Portsmouth, Va.) finished in the paint with a second-chance layup to start the second half. Shortly after, Gantt added his second three-pointer of the game. Providence cut the deficit to three points, 40-37.
Providence trailed 53-47 at the 11:32 media timeout. The Friars had not scored since the 13:04 mark. Coming out of the timeout, Creighton took their largest lead to that point in the game after a Marcus Zegarowski three-pointer. The Bluejays led 56-47.
By the final media timeout, Providence had narrowed the gap to eight. The Friars found a late spark with a 10-2 run. Watson completed an and-one for the Friars with 2:41 remaining. Creighton’s lead was cut to 63-59.
Duke made a contested layup in the paint for the Friars with 1:46 left, bringing the deficit back down to four. At the 0:15 mark, Horchler added two free throws for Providence. The Friars were in the midst of a 12-2 run and forced a Creighton turnover on the ensuing defensive possession. The Friars took a timeout as the Bluejays led 65-63.
“Great job by the rest of the guys who were on the court at that time to give us energy, and the bench as well for uplifting us and keeping us confident,” Duke said.
Horchler knotted the game at 65 for the Friars with seven seconds left as he scored on a running hook shot. The Friars had overcome a 13-point deficit to tie the game. In the final second, Creighton’s Christian Bishop dunked it on the other end of the floor to win the game for the Bluejays.
Providence finished 22-65 (33.8%) from the field, 9-23 (39.1%) from three, and 12-17 (70.6%) from the free throw line. Creighton finished 26-61 (42.6%) from the field, 10-29 (34.5%) from three, and 5-10 (50.0%) from the free throw line. Marcus Zegarowski led the way in the scoring column for the Bluejays with 20 points, including six made three-point baskets.
Four players finished in double-figures for the Friars in Duke, Watson, Reeves, and Horchler. Watson led the team with eight rebounds. The Friars controlled the boards in the game, finishing with 45 total rebounds in the game in comparison to the Bluejays’ 35.
Up next, the Friars will travel to Cincinnati, Ohio to take on the Xavier Musketeers on Sunday, January 10. Tip-off is TBA and will be televised on FOX.