Noah Horchler exploded for 20 points in win over Xavier (Photo: Stew Milne)
By KEVIN McNAMARA
A week off certainly agreed with the Providence College Friars.
PC found a deep shooting eye with 11 three-pointers and just enough grit on defense to fly past Xavier, 83-68, Wednesday night at Alumni Hall.
Noah Horchler, David Duke and A.J. Reeves all swished three treys apiece to spark the Friars. Horchler totaled a team-high 20 points, while Duke nearly rang up a triple-double with 18 points, 9 rebounds and 9 assists.
PC (12-11, 8-9) avenged a bitter last-second loss at Xavier back in early January. The Musketeers badly needed a win but fell to 12-5 and 5-5.
“We know we’re right on the edge,” Horchler said. “This was another team that could’ve swept us and Coach (Cooley) tells us we don’t want to be swept by any team.”
Horchler said that after the game his teammates were calling him “the white KD,” and if the senior transfer can make shots like he did tonight the Friars own a different level offensive attack.
“We played desperate. We are desperate,” Cooley said. “There is zero margin of error for the Friars.”
Cooley said he hasn’t ruled scrambling and adding a game to his schedule this weekend if the right strength of opponent could be found. ”I think it’s a possibility,” he said. “We’re not dead yet. I’m not counting us out. Not yet. We ain’t dead yet. There’s no nails in us yet.”
The Friars came out with a notable hop in their step, not only getting on the scoreboard quickly but moving much quicker defensively. The Musketeers missed 10 of their first 14 shots and five different Friars scored buckets on the way to a 16-8 lead.
A stretch of three 3-pointers, one from Duke and two by A.J. Reeves pushed the lead to 25-12. A quick 7-0 push by Xavier woke up the visitors buy Duke scored his 1,000th point with another 3-pointer and when Noah Horchler drained PC’s sixth trey of the half (6-of-13) and Reeves canned a tough step-back baseline jumper, the Friars went into the locker room with a comfortable 35-25 lead.
Xavier came out with a tougher push to start the second half and sliced the deficit to six on a few occasions but the Friars kept attacking the rim. Watson and Horchler threw down slams and then two more, with Horchler’s drawing oohs and aahs for a 49-40 lead.
Providence went up 58-47 on Jared Bynum’s second 3-pointer of the game (and fourth of the season) but Xavier’s offense found a nice gear. The Musketeers closed to 60-54 but the Friars bombs-away offense was just kicking into gear. Horchler nailed one, then Reeves followed and yet another by Horchler gave the Friars a 69-56 lead with 6:13 left.
Noah Horchler – 20 points, 8 rebounds
Nate Watson – 15 points, 7 rebounds
David Duke – 18 points, 9 rebounds, 9 assists
A.J. Reeves – 16 points, 3 threes
Zach Freemantle – 24 points, 12 rebounds
Paul Scruggs – 22 points
Noah Horchler, the transfer from North Florida, has adjusted throughout his first season in the Big East. Defense has been a challenge but the 6-9 forward is more active and continues to show he’s a big-time rebounder. In this game he found a 3-point shooting stroke that he says he rarely flashed in his three seasons in the Atlantic Sun.