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Getting it Right: Providence blitzes DePaul

Getting it Right: Providence blitzes DePaul

Rafael Castro enjoyed his best-ever Big East game with 12 points and 8 rebounds at DePaul


Now that was a welcome visit to Chicago.

No, the Providence College Friars didn’t swing by Grant Park, check out The Loop or make it up to Wrigleyville. They just kicked butt, took names and tucked a badly-needed win over DePaul into their pockets before returning home with plenty of smiles.

This is what happens when Big East teams come to the Windy City. Providence sent the Blue Demons to a sixth straight conference loss (3-14, 0-6) by breezing into halftime and then starting the second on fire before cruising to a 100-62 victory. The win halts a four-game losing streak for a PC team (12-6, 3-4) that secured its first win without injured star forward Bryce Hopkins in the lineup.

The win was greeted by a mix of excitement and relief. On the same day that Hopkins was operated on in his hometown of Chicago, his teammates went about giving their season a positive turn for the better.

“It’s easy to have great culture in college basketball when you’re winning, the threes are falling, everybody’s telling you how great you are,” said coach Kim English. “It’s very easy to come to work the next day, put in extra work after practice. Your culture is really tested when you face some adversity. Do they still stay after practice, do they come early, do they come to work after an honest film session.”

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This is the first time the Friars have eclipsed 100 points in regulation of a Big East game since the conference reconfigured in 2013-14. The last 100-plus in regulation against a Big East opponent came in a 109-106 loss to Seton Hall in the 2010 Big East Tournament.

The Friars led by just 35-29 with five minutes to play in the first half but completely blitzed the home team from there. A 12-2 push to close the half was led by Devin Carter’s continued All-America level play as he scored his team’s final eight points. That gave him an even 20 for the half as the Friars led 47-31 at the break. Included was the 1,000th of his three-year college career.

When the Friars opened the second half with Carter scoring on an and-one, driving and getting to the foul stripe for two more fouls and Josh Oduro (17 points, 9 rebounds) scoring as well, the Friars had pushed their run to 18-2 and led by a commanding 54-31.

“They were shooting 50-something from the floor so the focus was to get that percentage down,” English said. “Devin is an absolute warrior. He’s playing through illness. He’s been sick the last three nights. Or medical staff did a great job getting him ready (but) he’s a warrior.”

As he scanned the stat sheet English said highlights popped into his mind. Jayden Pierre shot the ball great early on and finished with three 3-pointers and a great line of 14 points, 5 assists and just one assist. Rafael Castro came off the bench once Oduro picked up a second early foul and played his best all-around game with a career-best 12 points and 8 rebounds, easily his career-best totals in Big East contests.

Freshman Rich Barron starred at Chicago’s St. Ignatius High and a few dozen family and friends were at Wintrust Arena to cheer him on. The blowout game gave Barron an opportunity to see extended minutes and he took advantage with 12 points and two threes in 15 minutes.

“Those guys are having good days in practice,” English said. “We had two of our best practices of the season the last two days. It wasn’t the story the days before Xavier (loss). Just okay practices before St. John’s (loss). Those guys are getting better.”

The Friars won’t play this weekend and will return to action next Wednesday at Seton Hall. By then English will have gotten his first extended look at 7-2 recruit Anton Bonke. The junior college transfer has enrolled and can practice with the team the rest of this season, but not play in games.

Bonke is a native of the Vanuatu, an island off of Australia, who was attending Eastern Arizona College before deciding to transfer. English said that Bonke’s size will help transform the Friars frontcourt size in the 2024-25 season

“Anton is someone who’s upside is really high,” he said. “His size is impressive. His hands, his legs. He’s someone who’s going to be a formidable force inside for us for years to come,” English said.



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