Watson Helps PC Beat Up On St. John’s, 78-59

Providence College Press Release

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The Providence College men’s basketball game defeated the St. John’s Red Storm, 78-59, on Wednesday, Feb. 20 in the Dunkin’ Donuts Center.  It marked the Friars’ second win of the season versus the Red Storm. The Friars led by eight points at the half but extended their lead to as much as 28 in the second half. Providence held St. John’s to their second lowest points total of the season, their previous low was 56 against Providence on Feb. 19.
Four players scored in double figures for the Friars. Nate Watson (Arlington, Va.) tied his career-high with 21 points, bringing down nine rebounds. Alpha Diallo (New York, N.Y.) recorded his BIG EAST leading eighth double-double of the season with 16 points and 11 rebounds. Maliek White (Richmond, Va.) and Isaiah Jackson (Gainesville, Fla.) scored 11 apiece off the bench, combining for five of the teams seven three-point baskets.
Head Coach Ed Cooley slotted Makai Ashton-Langford (Worcester, Mass.), Diallo, David Duke (Providence, R.I.), A.J. Reeves (Roxbury, Mass) and Watson in the starting lineup. This marked the first time all season these players started on the floor together.
The high-powered St. John’s offense could not find an opening in Providence’s defense to start the game. St. John’s ranks third in the BIG EAST in scoring, averaging 79.3 per contest, but were held scoreless for the first 6:39 and scored just 26 in the first half. Providence led 9-0 at the 14:25 mark, holding the Red Storm to 0-6 from the field and 0-3 from three-point territory.
St. John’s chipped away once they saw one fall through, going on a seven-point run to cut the deficit to 9-7 (11:18). Isaiah Jackson (Gainesville, Fla.) provided offense off the bench, hitting a triple from the top of the key to stop the run. He connected for seven points in the first half and grabbed four rebounds.
Watson controlled the paint on both sides of the floor in the absence of Kalif Young (Vaughan, Ontario), who was out with an injury. Watson swatted Sedee Keita’s dunk attempt during St. John’s early run, followed by scoring five-straight for the Friars to build a 20-11 advantage. Watson finished the half with a team-high 12 points and brought down seven rebounds.
St. John’s started to use their speed in the latter portion of the half to trim the lead. The Red Storm accumulated six fast break points to Providence’s zero. Providence entered the locker room with a 34-26 lead after Watson backed down Mustafa Heron in the post for a layup with three seconds remaining. Providence turned over St. John’s seven times in the first half and made them pay for eight points off turnovers. St. John’s forced eight turnovers but scored zero points on the extra possessions.
Reeves gave Providence their largest lead of the night at the time (13), after connecting on a three from the right wing in the Friars’ first possession of the half.  Watson added his fifth basket of the night to extend the Friar lead to 39-26. Providence added nine-straight points off free throws to enjoy a 48-33 (15:21) cushion.
The Friars continued their run to establish a 70-44 lead with 7:14 remaining. St. John’s failed to build anything on offense, breaking their streak of turning the ball over 10 or less times for four straight games. The Friars gave St. John’s trouble all night, tallying 12 turnovers in the contest. Watson scored nine of his 21 points in the second half on 4-5 shooting.
LJ Figueroa paced the Red Storm with 16 points and four rebounds.
Up next, Providence will matchup against No. 11/10 Marquette University in the Dunkin’ Donuts Center on Saturday, Feb. 23. Tip-off is scheduled for 12:00 p.m. on FOX.