Providence Friars 79 (21-11) – St. John’s Red Storm 74 (20-12)
In what was essentially a loser goes to the NIT game, Providence was able to hold on down the stretch amiss a valiant comeback attempt by St. John’s down the stretch, erasing a 15 point deficit in the waning minutes to make it a 1 point game with 1:15 left, setting the stage for a great finish at the Garden.
Of course, the Seton Hall/Villanova appetizer game turned into just the beginning of some early March Madness, thanks to the buzzer beating heroics of Sterling Gibbs.
With a win in their match-up against St. John’s, PC reached the Big East tournament semifinal for the first time since 1997 when they did so with PC All-Time great Austin Croshere. The next game brings with it some interesting baggage. A win against Seton Hall, a team that still won’t be in the RPI Top 100, even with their upset of Villanova, is nice, but not much of a resume builder. However, a loss against them could knock PC back into the NIT…it’s a bit of a double-edged sword if you will.
The bubble for this year’s NCAA tournament is extremely deep, and although PC climbed to 21 wins, they only have 2 wins against RPI Top 50 teams. I still think they’re in as of right now but a win against Seton Hall would sure as hell make me feel a lot more comfortable.
Bryce Cotton had a crazy unusual quiet game and ended up playing the least amount of minutes (he was the only player in college to average over 40 MPG this year) of any game this year (34 minutes) because of constant foul trouble from an atrocity of an officiating crew…both for and against PC. He seemed to be out of rhythm all game and finished the contest with a pretty grim 1 for 10 shooting performance but was able to close the game out down the stretch with his usual clutch free throw shooting (10 for 13).
Everyone else on the Friars did a pretty great fucking job with both Batts (13 points, 12 rebounds) and Henton (16 points, 11 rebounds) putting up double-doubles and Harris cleaning up on the offensive boards, finishing with 10 boards (6 offensive) and 6 points.
But the player of the game was without a doubt Josh Fortune. Fortune led all scorers with 24 points on a supremely efficient 8 for 13 shooting performance (4 for 7 from 3-point) and looked like he couldn’t miss for a while when the Friars were building their 2nd half lead…that eventually disappeared.
I’ve said it before, so I’ll say it again…
He has a great looking shot and a lot of the tools to take make the leap next year with Kris Dunn coming back and Henton assuming the role of a secondary scorer…with some Harris mixed in with his versatility.
Just to be sure, I say PC should just win the entire Big East tournament so they can put any conjecture to rest about whether they should be in or not. Whattya think?
Next Up: Tomorrow vs. Seton Hall at 7 PM at MSG.
Some more pics from the game just for fun.
Just as a random sidenote, 50 Cent was in the house for the games.