PC Friars couldn’t find offense at Hinkle Fieldhouse (Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire)
By KEVIN McNAMARA
It’s awful hard to win a basketball game when you can’t make shots.
That’s the lesson taken out of Providence College’s disappointing 70-64 loss at Butler Wednesday night. The Friars shot 4-of-26 from the 3-point line with only Nate Watson (19 points) and David Duke (17) showing up on offense.
“Obviously we didn’t play well,” said coach Ed Cooley. “Very, very disappointed with this loss. I’m beside myself right now.”
Asked to delve deeper, Cooley cited issues with the team’s effort on defense, but also conceded “4-of-26, you’re not going to win on the road.”
While shooting problems never left the Friars, Butler broke open a 31-30 game at halftime by settling into a good flow on offense and ending up shooting 48 percent in the second half.
Starters Jared Bynum, A.J. Reeves (1-of-10 FG) and Noah Horchler were singled out. The trio combined for just seven points and Cooley said “all things are on the table when you don’t play well.”
“We have to get more consistency with the guys that start,” he said. “We need more production from the guys coming out of the gate.”
The Friars grabbed control early on and led 19-13 after a slick Jared Bynum feed to Noah Horchler. However foul trouble slowed the attack and Ed Cooley began shuttling one player after another into the game. PC would play 11 men in the first half.
The Bulldogs didn’t see any offensive rhythm until the final six minutes of the half. A 25-20 PC lead quickly melted away as Jair Bolden finally got going. PC lost its lead at the buzzer as freshman Chuck Harris hit a corner 3-pointer to give the Bulldogs a 31-30 lead at the break.
The Friars did a good job getting Watson touches and Duke worked hard (6-of-16) on offense but the rest of the group simply didn’t contribute enough. PC hit just two of its 13 three-point tries in the opening half and shot 36 percent from the floor.
While PC’s offensive woes continued in the second half, Butler woke up. The Bulldogs opened the half on a 8-2 run and held the lead throughout. PC tied it at 39-39 but scored the next seven points.
PC continued to miss open 3-pointers while Butler started the half hitting nine of its first 17 shots to build a 52-43 lead. With the Friars slowed by Butler’s zone defense, the home team built a 66-56 lead with four minutes to go. The Bulldogs (2-3) didn’t hit a field goal over the final 4:40 but made enough free throws to walk away winners.
David Duke – 17 points, 8 rebounds.
Nate Watson – 19 points, 9-of-12 shooting.
JaKobe Coles – 14 points.
*Nate Watson played well offensively once again but had just four rebounds. He took only four shots in the second half, hitting them all.
“We tried to get it in there (to Watson) but the shots that were presented we normally make,” Cooley said. “They didn’t go down today. But if we don’t defend and rebound we won’t be the team we want to be. Period, end of discussion.”
*Butler’s freshmen have no choice but to grow up fast with point guard Aaron Thompson (knee) sidelined. The group took major steps forward in this game.
UP NEXT: DePaul, Dec. 27.