Friar Basketball

Bentil’s Big Half Propels PC


Ben Bentil played the best half of his Providence career in the opening 20 minutes against Evansville — at a time when the Friars desperately needed it.

PC led by as many as 19 points in the second half, and eventually put away a veteran Evansville team, 74-64, but they wouldn’t have been in position to do so if not for Bentil’s early explosion.

Early on Ed Cooley’s group looked jet lagged on Thanksgiving Night in California, allowing Evansville to score 10 straight points after Bentil opened the game with a three pointer.

Providence made just three field goals in the first eight minutes of the game before Bentil went to work.

With the Friars trailing 16-9 and struggling to mount much of an offense, Bentil scored 14 points over the next six minutes, leading a 21-10 surge that put PC ahead for good.

During that stretch Bentil connected on his second three pointer, hit a short pull up off of the dribble and made seven free throws. In the process Bentil forced Evansville center Egidijus Mockevicis (who came in averaging over 21 points and 13 rebounds) to the bench with two fouls.

The Friars pushed their first half lead to 11 behind a Ryan Fazekas three pointer and a Kris Dunn three point play off of a steal.

While Bentil was the story of the first half, it was Providence’s defense that put Evansville away in the second. The Aces went nearly seven minutes before making a second half field goal, and by the time that basket came Providence led by 17.

Bentil finished with a career high 24 points, while Dunn was once again terrific with 18 points, six rebounds, five assists and three steals.

The coaching staff continues to show trust in Junior Lomombo, and he’s rewarding them. The junior guard played 30 minutes for the second game in a row and finished with 12 points, three rebounds and a pair of assists. He was also key in slowing DJ Balentine, who got off early against PC’s zone, but was contained when Lomomba guarded him. Balentine has averaged over 20 points per game over the past two seasons, and he finished 7-18 from the field after making three jumpers in the opening five minutes.

Ryan Fazekas connected on a pair of three pointers and a pretty baseline jumper off of the dribble en route to 10 points and four rebounds on 3-4 shooting from the field.

With the win Providence improved their record to 5-0, and will most likely face #11 Arizona on Friday night. The meeting would be the first time the two teams met since their epic Elite Eight overtime thriller in 1997.

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