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Friars run out of gas, now the Selection Sunday wait begins

Friars run out of gas, now the Selection Sunday wait begins

Devin Carter and the Friars were squeezed out of the Big East Tourney Friday (Photos: Louriann Mardo-Zayat)

By KEVIN McNAMARA

NEW YORK – With a little more than 11 minutes showing on the clock Friday night at Madison Square Garden there was little to celebrate for the Providence Friars and their fans.

Marquette had just registered a four-point play and grabbed a 60-46 lead. The Friars owned precious little life, not much pop across an increasingly banged-up lineup and a short supply of hope. It was more than fair at that point to wonder if Providence’s season had simply run out of gas.

That wasn’t the case, to a point anyways. The Friars – and mainly a gallant Devin Carter – made the push that lit up the sold out Garden and sliced Marquette’s lead to just 68-66 with 3:39 on the clock. But just as quickly as the Friars roared from behind they also faded. A string of bad offensive possessions, the foul out of Josh Oduro with 2:27 left and just enough Marquette toughness led to a 79-68 victory. The Golden Eagles (25-8) will move ahead to the championship game against Connecticut and a likely top three seed in the NCAA Tournament.

The Friars’ destination is unknown. Providence (21-13) finds itself firmly on the NCAA Tournament bubble and will no doubt see its resume closely inspected by the selection committee.

“We move on. I hate that our fate is out of our hands, but we got a little less than 48 hours to wait and see where our next destination is,” said PC coach Kim English.

This was not the dream ride the Friars enjoyed in convincing wins over Georgetown and Creighton here this week at the Garden. Marquette executed wonderfully on defense to open the game and ultimately it’s dominating play over the first 16 minutes proved tough to overcome. Providence made just two of its first eight shots and only two of its first 13 three-pointers as Marquette built a 35-18 lead.

“It is tough to get going when you’re not getting (defensive) stops. The game rewards teams that gets stops because then they can play in transition,” English said. “Every team in this league is different. The way Georgetown guards ball screens is different than the way Creighton does.

“Now, I think Marquette may be the best in our league at changing what they do in pick-and-roll. They switch, they hard show. They stay home,” he said. “Sometimes it keeps you off-balance. So maybe that was a little bit attributed to the slow start.”

Carter attempted only two shots as his team fell behind by 17. For the game Oduro hoisted just four shots (9 points, 10 rebounds) and didn’t cope well with nearly constant double-teams as he turned the ball over six times.

PC trailed 42-31 at the half and basically didn’t accomplish very much over the game’s first 30 minutes. But there was a stirring push into the final minutes. Carter awoke from the dead and tossed in a 3-pointer and made three free throws after getting fouled shooting a trey. In the blink of an eye the Friars trailed by just 62-55 but then Carter was whistled for his fourth foul on a push-off with 8:19 to play.

Carter’s foul trouble, plus Oduro picking up his third, fourth and fifth fouls in the crux of the comeback doomed the Friars. Friar fans hooted at every call and some were clear fouls and others a flip of the coin.

“There’s moving screens on every possession, both ways, both ways. And it’s just kind of been decided, hey, we’re going to let most of those go. But sometimes it’s so egregious that they call it. I’m glad I’m not an official. That’s a hard position to be in,” said Marquette coach Shaka Smart. “A lot of times we’re telling these guys to get over the screen, defeat the screen, and it’s a collision. And so the foul sometimes could go either way. But definitely foul trouble was a factor tonight because Devin Carter had four for a while and obviously Oduro fouled out.”

Even so a Carter offensive rebound hoop, then a power drive and a free throw did make it 68-66 with 3:39 left. However on three of the next four possessions the Friars fell deep in the shot clock and ended up with a 30-foot miss by Carter, an errant lob pass to Rafael Castro and a Jayden Pierre turnover.

Game over.


Carter was clearly banged up all game and limited to 31 minutes. He came out of the game several times at points where English would never sub for him yet still turned up the heat late and finished with 27 points, 8 rebounds and 3 assists. Carter said he has injured his calf and keeps getting hit in the area.

The Friars will now wait and have their post-season destination decided by the NCAA men’s basketball committee. English politicked a bit for his team after this loss and while most bracket watchers have the Friars falling just short of the field of 68, that’s only conjecture.

English is hoping the committee sees his team’s six Quad 1 wins and zero losses in Quads 3 and 4. He went out of his way to emphasize the defeats that some other bubble teams have on their records.

“I think it’s much more realistic to look at the eight or nine teams and their resum√©s and see the amount of quad one wins that all those bubble teams have, to see the amount of quad three and four losses,” he said. “I’m going to say that one more time. I think that the selection committee is going to look at quad three and four losses and decide what teams are in the field and not.”

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