Devin Carter led the Friars with 19 points, 7 rebounds and 3 steals (Photo: PC Athletics)
By KEVIN McNAMARA
There were chances, oh so many chances, for the Providence College Friars to grab a critical, hard-earned victory over Kansas State Friday night at the Baha Mar Hoops tournament.
Yet, in the end, the Friars didn’t deserve the win thanks to an offense that never could get on track. The Wildcats (3-1) were just a bit better on that end and secured a 73-70 victory in overtime. PC had a last-possession chance to win the game in regulation but a Devin Carter drive through heavy traffic would not fall. In the O.T., Bryce Hopkins (2-of-15 FG) continued what was a brutally tough shooting night as the Friars shot just 4-of-12 and never did grab the lead.
Providence (3-1) fell for the first time this season and could never get untracked on offense. PC’s hurried attack early on was accentuated by the absence of starting point guard Jayden Pierre who played just five minutes due to a groin injury that was aggravated during a Thursday practice. The Friars turned the ball over 10 times early on in the game before settling down and finishing with 15 miscues. However seeing leaders Hopkins (5 turnovers) and Devin Carter (6) lose the ball so much was deflating. The Friars shot 35 percent from the floor and just 22 percent (5-of-22) from the 3-point line.
”No one cares about our injuries or foul trouble,” said coach Kim English. ”We have to improve, we have to get better. We didn’t meet the mark in a lot of areas.”
Asked to clarify, English cited turnovers, fouling opposing 3-point shooters and missed layups. ”You have to execute when the game is in its toughest moments,” he said.
The final few minutes were costly for the Friars. Not only did the Wildcats ice the game from the foul line but a play with seven seconds left will cost them freshman Garwey Dual for Sunday’s consolation game against Georgia. With K-State leading by five points, Dual and Kansas State’s Dai Dai Ames exchanged pushes, then Ames poked Dual in the throat. Dual responded by hitting the Wildcat freshman guard with a forearm shiver and both players were ultimately ejected for fighting. The NCAA rule for a Flagrant technical foul for fighting is a 1-game suspension.
Asked what he told his young freshman, PC’s English said ”you shouldn’t fight during a basketball game.”
With Pierre slowed by a leg injury and Dual suspended, PC’s options at point guard for Sunday’s game are severely limited. Carter, Corey Floyd and Ticket Gaines will all help in a team-wide effort to facilitate the offense.
The Friars trailed by just 65-63 with 1:48 left in overtime after a dunk by Rafael Castro. But two defensive breakdowns led to layups by K-State’s David N’Guessan. Hopkins missed two 3-pointers in a row and some continued excellent free throw shooting by Tyler Perry (14-of-14, 24 points) gave the Wildcats a 71-66 lead.
PC’s appeared to draw an offensive foul on an inbounds play but no foul was called even as Carter was pushed to the floor. The Friars had to foul and Ames made two free throws with 16 seconds left for a 73-66 lead. Dual scored quickly for PC to make it a five point game with seven seconds left but then the fighting incident ended any faint hopes for a miracle comeback.
The Friars had their chances to close the game out in regulation but the physical, tough affair ended in a 57-57 draw after 40 minutes. The Friars led 47-42 with 7:59 left after Dual capped off a 9-0 run with a nice swoop to the hoop. Perry answered with a difficult 3-point shot and then the transfer from North Texas hit another while getting fouled by Carter. The four-point play gave KSU a 49-47 lead.
Providence’s Gaines (10 points) hit a 3-pointer to tie it at 50-50 and the Friars led 56-53 after a Josh Oduro hoop with 2:53 left. Perry again got fouled and made two free throws and then Oduri fouled out chasing a loose ball. Perry made two free throws for a 57-56 lead and then Carter sank 1-of-2 to tie it at 57-57 with 1:23 left. A defensive stop by Carter led to a 3-point miss by Dual with 38 seconds left but Kansas State lost the ball on an inbounds play and the Friars had the ball with 9.8 seconds showing.
English got the ball to his best driver – Carter – and the fast junior from Miami took it strong to the basket but no foul was called as he crashed into the scoring area. ”We wanted him to drive and try to make a play at the rim,” English said.
The Friars were hurt in the first half by Kansas State’s Will McNair, Jr., the 6-11 center who was enrolled at Providence all summer before choosing to transfer in August. McNair scored 9 or his 10 points in the opening half, no doubt enjoying a chance to get back at his friends. McNair left PC over a cloudy prognosis for not only starting, but playing significant minutes with Josh Oduro and Rafael Castro in the mix. PC certainly could’ve used McNair’s size and strength in this game, and the entire 2023-24 season.