Providence Wins First Ever Big East Regular Season Title

The No. 11/10 Providence College men’s basketball team defeated the Creighton Bluejays, 72-51, and were crowned BIG EAST Regular Season Champions for the first time in program history on Saturday, February 26 at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, R.I. The Friars improved to 24-3 overall and 14-2 in BIG EAST play. Tonight marked the Friars’ final home game of the season at the Dunk’. Prior to tip-off, the team honored its six graduating student-athletes in the Senior Night Ceremony. With tonight’s victory, the Friars earned the BIG EAST regular season title for the first time in program history. The Friars also earned their 24th win of the season, which ties the highest win total under Ed Cooley and most victories since 2016.

Senior A.J. Reeves (Roxbury, Mass.) led the Friars with 23 points shooting 7-10 from three-point territory. Graduate student Justin Minaya (Harrington Park, N.J.) contributed a game-high 11 rebounds. Graduate students Al Durham (Lilburn, Ga.) and Nate Watson (Portsmouth, Va.) each chipped in with 12 points.

The Friars will enter the BIG EAST Tournament as the No. 1 seed and will play on Thursday, March 10 at Noon at Madison Square Garden.

“We’ve always had dreams and possibilities,” Head Coach Ed Cooley said. “When you have young men that have your values and believe in what you believe in, through the ups and downs, today is the best part.”

FIRST HALF:

Durham scored the first basket for the Friars with a second-chance layup. Reeves had the team’s first three-pointer.
The Friars led 7-4 at the first media timeout of the game.
At the 14:04 mark, Jared Bynum (Largo, Md.) entered the scoring column with a layup, extending the Friars’ lead to six.
With 8:01 remaining in the half, Watson finished through contact and ended the team’s scoring drought. PC led 19-13.
Reeves added his third three-pointer of the night at the 7:40 mark. Shortly after, Reeves added yet another three-ball to extend the lead. The Friars led by nine points, 25-16.
The Friars held a nine-point advantage several times in the first half.
Reeves was the driving force of the Friars’ first half lead. He was the only player to reach double figures in the half.
Providence shot 13-29 (44.8%) from the field, 4-11 (36.4%) from three, and 5-6 (83.3%) from the free throw line.
Creighton shot 11-28 (39.3%) from the field, 1-11 (9.1%) from three, and 3-5 (60.0%) from the free throw line.
SECOND HALF:

Watson opened the second half with an emphatic two-handed slam. On the next possession, Minaya knocked down his first three-pointer.
In the first stretch of the second half, the Friars gained their first double-digit lead.
Reeves carried his three-point hot streak into the second half. At the 15:25 mark, he buried his fifth of the game. On the next possession, Watson increased the lead to 16.
As the half progressed, the offense continued to run through Reeves’ shooting. With just over 14 minutes remaining, Reeves drained his sixth of the game. PC led by 19, 54-35.
Creighton answered with a 7-0 scoring run and held the Friars scoreless for over three minutes. At the 10:38 mark, Minaya’s floater beat the shot clock to end the drought.
After the Bluejays missed four consecutive layup opportunities, Durham knocked down a mid-range jumper on the other end.
A dunk by Ed Croswell (Philadelphia, Pa.) capped off a streak of nine unanswered points by the Friars. PC had their largest lead of the game thus far, 63-42.
Ahead of the 3:36 media timeout, Reeves buried his seventh three-point basket, tying his career-high. The Friars were in firm control of the game, leading by 18.
With 1:04 to play, graduate student Andrew Fonts (Portsmouth, R.I.) finished a contested layup in the paint.
The Bluejays did not score in the final 3:36 minutes of the game.
NOTES/HIGHLIGHTS:

Providence finished 28-59 (47.5%) from the field, 8-21 (38.1%) from three, and 8-10 (80.0%) from the free throw line.
Creighton finished 18-59 (30.5%) from the field, 5-26 (19.2%) from three, and 10-15 (66.7%) from the free throw line.
The Friars held the lead for 92.8% of the game.
Bynum recorded a game-high seven assists.
Ryan Kalkbrenner led the way for the Bluejays, recording 13 points. Ryan Hawkins finished with a double-double, 10 points and 10 rebounds.
The Friars won the BIG EAST regular season title for the first time ever.
The Friars have won 14 games in BIG EAST play for the first time in program history.
The Friars reached 24 wins in a season for the first time since 2015-16.
The Friars have been ranked for 10 consecutive weeks after entering the polls on December 20, 2021.
The Friars finished February with a 6-1 mark for the month.
Attendance – 12,400
WHAT’S NEXT:

The No. 11/10 Friars travel to take on the No. 8/8 Villanova Wildcats for the team’s regular season finale on Tuesday, March 1 at the Finneran Pavilion in Villanova, Pa. Tip-off is set for 6:30 p.m. on FS1.
Villanova holds a 69-41 all-time edge against the Friars. In their first matchup of the season, the Wildcats defeated the Friars, 89-84, on February 15 in Providence, R.I.

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