#11 USC Trojans (25-9) 75
#11 Providence Friars (20-13) 71
It was a game of two halves, that’s as simple as you can put it. Providence College raced out to what looked to be an insurmountable 15-point lead at half time in their first four NCAA Tournament rematch with the USC Trojans, but that wasn’t the end of the story.
After putting together, maybe their most dominant half of basketball in the entire season, the roles of the two teams were completely switched for the second half. USC has developed a knack for coming back from large deficits this year, notching 11 different comebacks of 10 or more points this season, the most in all of college basketball.
So, I’m sure it came as no surprise to the Trojan coaches, players, and fans that when faced with such a familiar situation, USC was able to claw their way back and steal a win from the grasp of the Friars.
Providence held a 17-point lead with 19:42 left in the game. The Trojans were able to claw all the way back behind Bennie Boatwright (24 pts) and Jordan McLaughlin (18 pts) and avenge their previous NCAA loss to Providence. The 17 points were the 6th biggest deficit overcome in NCAA Tournament history…that definitely sounds better than lead blown doesn’t it?
- The Friars were 8-15 from three in the first half.
- Jordan McLaughlin dominated the game with 18 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists (only 1 turnover), and 2 steals.
- USC was playing three players 6’10” or taller in the 2nd half during their comeback, fully taking advantage of PC not having any legitimate depth in their frontcourt. The Trojans outrebounded the Friars 36-25.
- 6’10” Bennie Boatwright scored a career-high 24 points.
- 6’11” Nick Rakocevic with a career-high 9 points off the bench.
- 6’11” Chimezie Metu with 15 points and 8 rebounds.
- The Friars didn’t have enough big bodies to match the size of USC down the stretch.
- This may have been Emmitt Holt’s best all-around game as a Friar. Holt had a team-high 18 points on 9-12 shooting from the floor. He also took in a game-high 11 rebounds to notch his 4th double-double on the season. The 11 rebounds matched a season-high for Holt.
- Jalen Lindsey was absolutely unstoppable in the first half, making a barrage of 3-pointers. Every time you blinked, Lindsey was there draining another 3. Lindsey hit 4 threes in the first half, but didn’t connect on a single three in the second half. He still finished with 17 points on the game but his damage was done when the Friars were rolling in the first 20 minutes.
- Lindsey logged a team-high 38 minutes on the floor.
- Kyron Cartwright was uncharacteristically hampered by foul trouble in the game. Maliek did a really nice job filling in during the first half but this team runs on Kyron’s aggressiveness running the offense. Cartwright only took 2 shots for the entire game, although he did make both field goals. The 2 field goal attempts tied a season-low for Kyron. This year, Cartwright averaged 9.5 field goal attempts a game.
- Cartwright finished with 9 points, 7 assists, but 4 turnovers. The foul trouble seemed to take him a little bit out of rhythm, which is probably to be expected.
- Rodney Bullock started the game a little shaky as he has been known to do at times this year but really turned things on after that. Bullock looked comfortable shooting from outside, hitting 3-6 from three, contributing to his 17 points.
- Bullock also chipped in 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, and a patented Bullock War Cry.
- Ryan Fazekas was Ed Cooley’s first guy off the bench in the first half as USC came out playing a lot of zone. Cooley probably saw how many spot-up threes the Trojan zone was giving up and thought Ryan could benefit from that defensive look. Fazekas only ended up playing 4 minutes, with his only shot a missed 40-foot heave during an expiring shot clock.
- Alpha Diallo was another guy who was struggling with foul trouble in the game. Diallo did a little bit of everything, including a nice little steal and dunk near the end of the half.
- Isaiah Jackson, who had been the most efficient scorer off the bench during PC’s run of wins at the end of the season picked the wrong time to have an off game. Jackson was just 1-5 with a turnover in 13 minutes.
- Maliek White did a very nice job backing up Cartwright, recording 4 assists in just 10 minutes.
- I was a little surprised that Kalif Young didn’t get a little more run in the game considering how the Friars couldn’t seem to stop the bleeding against the big USC lineup. I’m not sure if Cooley thought that he didn’t matchup quite good enough with the athleticism of USC’s bigs.
- I learned something new about USC. I fucking hate Chimezie Metu. Who knew?
- Also, I’d be remiss if I didn’t put in a pic of USC Coach (Former Dunk City Coach) Andy Enfield’s wife.
A very disappointing loss for the Friars when all is said and done but this season as a whole has been such an incredible surprise that you can’t help but feel hopeful for next year’s squad. The Friars should be returning basically everyone (minus Woodring) depending on transfers. The additions of two new bigs in Freshmen Nate Watson and Dajour Dickens is going to go along way in fixing the one glaring problem that this team had this year.
This season was supposed to be a rebuilding year. The Friars were picked by the coaches to finish 9th out of 10 teams in the Big East. Ed Cooley and these players weren’t having it at all. Cooley made his 4th straight NCAA Tournament despite such low expectations and proved that the Friars don’t have down years anymore. The resiliency and fight in this team did not go unnoticed.
Big hopes for next year. Optimism out the ass.