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Friars grab key road W over Seton Hall with a date vs. Georgetown on deck

Friars grab key road W over Seton Hall with a date vs. Georgetown on deck

Ticket Gaines led the Friars with 17 points in a win at Seton Hall


Over the last week with his team enjoying a well-earned Big East bye, Kim English and his staff looked ahead to upcoming games against Seton Hall and Georgetown with plenty of anticipation.

Yet by the time the Friars began their final preparation Wednesday night in Newark, most of their game plan to check the Pirates went out the window with star guard Kadary Richmond sidelined with ‘soreness’ that scratched him from the lineup. That only meant a different game would unfold, one dominated by physicality, rebounding and fight.

It took the Friars long stretches to respond to the change but after falling behind by 10 points with 12 minutes left, the visitors rallied, made all the toughness plays and grabbed a vital 67-63 victory. PC held the Pirates to just two field goals over the final 8:37 and scored its final seven points with 7-of-8 free throws in the final 4:03.

”Whatever the type of game it is that’s just how we like it. That message had to be conveyed at halftime,” PC coach Kim English said “but our guys were on the same type time that I was on. They did it. They made the decision to simply stop getting pushed under the basket and start rebounding. And just take care of the ball.”

Providence has now won two straight road games to improve to 13-6 overall and 4-4 in the Big East. The Friars host Ed Cooley and Georgetown Saturday.

Balanced scoring ruled the day for Providence with four double figure scorers. Ticket Gaines got rolling with his jump shot early as he scored 14 of his team-high 17 in the first half and canned 5-of-7 threes. Josh Oduro shook off a slow start and popped in the second half to finish with 16 points, 8 rebounds and 4 blocks. Devin Carter filled the box score with 14 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 steals, while Jayden Pierre settled down with the ball and scored all 11 of his points with six clutch free throws in the second half.

PC led for long stretches of the first half and held a 30-23 lead with 2:52 to play before disaster struck. A technical foul on English for leaving the coaching box and barking at a ref was sandwiched around four late turnovers and Seton Hall rallied to lead at the break, 31-30. PC was beaten badly off the glass (24-16) and did not score a field goal over the final 5:27 of the half.

Things didn’t look much better as Seton Hall took advantage of more sloppy PC ballhandling and made eight of its first nine shots with several coming off run-outs or outstanding scoring plays by guard Al-Amir Dawes, who would finish with a career-best 26 points. The Pirates led 51-41 with 12:07 left after a Dawes 3-point shot.

But that would be it for the Pirates. Carter slid over and worked over Dawes as best he could defensively and he’d finish with only two more buckets. More importantly Oduro became dominant inside both with shot blocks and some scoring plays, the best being a reverse jam that capped a 14-2 run that gave the Friars control at 60-55.

The Pirates never awoke as the Providence defense limited everything to the point where the home team could simply never make a strong push to the wire.

Bryce Hopkins went down early in the second half of a loss to Seton Hall at the Amica Mutual Pavilion so it was good for PC to even the score with the Pirates. Now the Friars will face Georgetown and Connecticut for the first time.

“I’ve been in college for a long time so I’ve seen the up and down seasons, the wins and the losses,” Gaines said. “It’s definitely around the time you want to start clicking. You want to start clicking in February, going into March to finish out the season. We have a great group of guys who are figuring out how to play with each other, more and more each day. Maybe more than we were doing before.”

As for the Hoyas, the players who Cooley recruited to Providence certainly will play with added emotion Saturday. So will those like Gaines who will revel in seeing the AMP fired up on all cylinders. As for English, he says it’s his job to keep his team focused on beating the Hoyas and not pleasing the crowd or showing up Cooley.

“I’m going to talk to my team about eliminating losing and playing to our standard,” English said. “That’s the only thing that we can control. I know the fans have emotion but our focus has got to be on the court and what we have to do to have a chance against a really well-coached basketball team.”



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