Providence Rallies Past St. John’s to Win Ninth Straight Game
The Providence College men’s basketball team defeated the St. John’s Red Storm (11-6, 1-5 BIG EAST), 83-80, on Saturday, Jan. 7 at the Amica Mutual Pavilion in Providence, R.I. The Friars improved to 14-3 on the season and 6-0 in BIG EAST play for the first time in program history. The Friars hold sole possession of first place in the BIG EAST. Providence has now won nine consecutive games, marking their largest win streak since 1989.
“Our players grew up with respect to how to deal with adversity today,” Head Coach Ed Cooley said. “We were a little out ofsorts without zjare [Bynum]. I tell our players to trust what we’re doing and believe in each other. It’s a long game, and we always want to be there at the end.”
Graduate student Noah Locke (Baltimore, Md.) led the way for the Friars with 20 points and five three-pointers (both season highs). Sophomore Devin Carter (Miami, Fla.) contributed 19 points, five assists and five boards. Redshirt senior Ed Croswell (Philadelphia, Pa.) chipped in with 14 points and nine rebounds. All five starters finished in double figures.
Locke and Alyn Breed (Powder Springs, Ga.) each finished contested layups to open the game for the Friars.
The Friars went on an 11-2 run in the first stretch of the game. Locke and Carter powered the offense. PC led 15-8.
The Red Storm answered with a 10-0 run, holding the Friars scoreless for over three minutes. The Friars ended the drought with two technical free throws, but had missed nine consecutive shots.
At the 8:49 mark, the Friars used a timeout, trailing 26-21. Posh Alexander had already notched double figures for the Red Storm.
With under five minutes remaining until halftime, the Red Storm gained a nine-point advantage, 35-26. The Friars continued to struggle on both ends of the floor.
Jayden Pierre (Elizabeth, N.J.) brought a spark off the bench for the Friars. He finished a heavily contested reverse layup off a St. John’s turnover at the 2:44 mark.
The Friars picked up speed in the final minutes of the first half. With two minutes left, PC regained the lead with a tough basket by Croswell. It capped off an 11-1 Friar run.
The Red Storm held a slim 40-39 lead at the halftime buzzer. It marked only the second time the Friars trailed at halftime during their win streak (at Seton Hall).
Providence shot 14-32 (43.8%) from the field, 3-10 (30.0%) from three and 8-13 (61.5%) from the free throw line.
St. John’s shot 17-34 (50.0%) from the field, 4-10 (40.0%) from three and 2-5 (40.0%) from the free throw line.
Carter intercepted a St. John’s pass and capitalized with a one-handed slam on the first possession of the half. Shortly after, Bryce Hopkins (Oak Park, Ill.) made a spin-move to the rim for his first basket of the game.
“Our defense ignites our offense,” Cooley said. “I think Carter is the best defensive player in the country.”
Locke buried back-to-back three-pointers with 13 minutes remaining. The Friars started the half 8-9 from the field and 3-4 from beyond the arc. PC led 62-54.
“Coach Cooley always tells me, ‘when you’re open, shoot,'” Locke said. “I have confidence because of my teammates and coaches. All I need is an inch of separation.”
The Friars went cold on offense midway through the second half. St. John’s went on a 9-2 run, trimming the deficit to one point and holding the Friars scoreless for a three-minute stretch.
At the 4:55 mark, the Red Storm tied the game at 71 with a fastbreak steal-and-score.
Carter stepped up with a clutch three-pointer to break the tie at the 3:28 mark. St. John’s quickly answered to make it a one-point game.
With 50 seconds remaining, the Friars led by four points, 80-76. Croswell made his third steal and Hopkins made one free throw off a foul on the other end.
St. John’s took a timeout with possession of the ball with 16 seconds left, trailing by three. Andre Curbelo finished a tough layup for the Red Storm to cut the deficit to one.
Croswell added one more free throw with three seconds left, and the Red Storm missed the last-second three-pointer.
“We did a great job in this late game situation because we practice it a lot,” Cooley added.
Providence finished 27-53 (50.9%) from the field, 7-17 (41.2%) from three and 22-34 (64.7%) from the free throw line.
St. John’s finished 32-65 (49.2%) from the field, 4-15 (26.7%) from three and 12-20 (60.0%) from the free throw line.
All five starters finished in double figures for the Friars.
Breed, starting in place of the injured Jared Bynum (Largo, Md.), finished with 14 points.
The Red Storm hauled in one more rebound, while the Friars dished one more assist.
Joel Soriano led the way for the Red Storm with a double-double, 16 points and 10 rebounds. Dylan Addae-Wusu had a game-high five steals.
Attendance – 12,400
The Friars have started BIG EAST play 6-0 for the first time ever.
Friars improved to 72-29 (.713) in games decided by 5 points or less since the 2013-14 season.
The Friars have won nine consecutive games, their largest win streak since the 1988-89 season (13 in a row).
The Friars are 10-0 at home this season, 31-1 in their last 32 games at the AMP and 613-236 (.722) all-time.
The Friars have a mid-week bye and will return to action next Saturday at Creighton.
Next weekend, the Friars will travel to Omaha, Neb. to take on the Creighton Bluejays at the CHI Health Center Omaha on Saturday, Jan. 14. Tip-off is set for 2:00 p.m. ET on FS1.
PC holds an 18-13 all-time advantage over Creighton. Last season, the Friars split their two matchups with the Bluejays, earning a home victory and falling in BIG EAST Tournament Semifinals.