Friar Basketball

Veterans Lead PC Over URI in Thriller


It was all supposed to be different for the University of Rhode Island against Providence this year.

Kris Dunn and Ben Bentil are gone, EC Matthews is back, and the Rams came into Saturday nationally ranked; yet for the seventh straight year it was the Friars who came out on top.

And this time it was in a complete thriller at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center.

Kyron Cartwright scored a career high 19 points, including four 3 pointers in the first half to keep Providence close, while fellow veterans Rodney Bullock and Jalen Lindsey had big second halves in a 63-60 win in front of a delirious home crowd.

Here are the key takeaways from a wild night in Providence.

Cartwright catches fire early, runs the show late

Ed Cooley said last week that he wanted Cartwright to look for his own offense more — in fact, he went further than that, saying his junior point guard was hurting his team at times by being so deferential.

Cartwright had made four 3 pointers on the season entering Saturday, but knocked down 4-5 in the first half when PC most needed them.

He knocked down a 3 and a mid-range jumper in the game’s first five minutes to settle his team down, and when URI pulled ahead by seven points with under six minutes to play in the half Cartwright drilled back-to-back 3s in a 25 second span to quickly pull PC to within one.

Under a minute later Cartwright dropped his fourth deep ball as Providence went up a point.

His biggest shots of the night came in the game’s final minute, however. With PC leading 61-60 with eight seconds remaining Cartwright was sent to the free throw line and knocked down both freebies. Matthews threw up a desperation 3 on the other end that fell well short and it was celebration time at the Dunk.

Much had been made in the preseason of Cartwright stepping into the leadership role on this team, and he set the tone throughout — making big shots early and late, and pushing the pace hard, but pulling the ball out when opportunities weren’t available. The sub-six foot guard also soared for a few critical rebounds.

His final stat line might be the best of his Providence career: 19 points, eight assists, four rebounds, and just one turnover in 39 minutes.

This was a junior leader emerging when his team needed it most. With Bullock struggling to score in the first half he picked up the slack, and then he returned to more of a distributor in the second half.

A tremendous night on a huge stage.

Lindsey providing leadership

Lindsey made the shot of the night — a difficult step back fadeaway off of the dribble with 43 seconds to play to push Providence ahead by four.

Still, if it weren’t for an earlier critical sequence of plays by Lindsey PC might not have been in position to win in the closing minute.

An 8-2 URI run pushed the Ram lead to seven at 47-40 — and once against stemmed a push by the Friars.

For much of Saturday night this one had the feel of a game in which Providence would climb back, but never get fully over the hump.

The Friars had gone over four minutes without a field goal and the game threatened to get away from them when Cartwright found Lindsey for a 3 ball to snap the drought and pull PC to within four at 47-43.

The game’s next points came when Lindsey flew inside for a huge offensive rebound and got fouled on the way up. His two free throws cut it to 47-45 and it was game on once again.

Lindsey finished with 13 points and has now scored in double figures in three straight games, but just as significantly his defense as been terrific all season.

After the game Cooley said he didn’t expect his team to be so locked in defensively this early, commenting that this year’s team gets by more on sticking to their assignments and playing sound fundamentally.

Lindsey’s been very steady all season and seems truly comfortable in his role for the first time in his PC career.

News and Notes

  • Cooley wouldn’t let his press conference end without giving a shoutout to the home crowd. The coach thanked Friar fans for the energy they brought on Saturday.
  • Emmitt Holt was quiet offensively, but the junior center was key to PC’s second half defense, making huge blocks at the rim. He finished with three swats on the night and found a way to make an impact when his offense was inconsistent.
  • Coming off of a career high 36 points against New Hampshire, Bullock struggled through a brutal first half — 0-3 from the field, 3-6 at the free throw line, and three turnovers. Cooley told him at halftime to not let the misses affect other parts of his game and the junior apparently took that to heart. He crashed the offensive glass early in the second half for a put-back and seemed to settle in from there. For as much as he struggled in the first, Bullock shined in the second half with 14 points on 5-8 shooting from the field.
  • Ryan Fazekas didn’t start for the first time this season, but found himself on the court during the most significant moments. Cooley lauded Fazekas for his  acceptance of his new role, sharing that the sophomore sniper said he would do whatever it took to help the team win. Both Cooley and Cartwright commented on his activity on the glass and in coming up with deflections.
  • Yes, EC Matthews is back on the floor, but he is far from the player he was prior to the knee injury that cost him last season. He went just 3-13 from the field and 1-8 from deep after nearly going for 30 the last time he played in the Dunk.
  • The Friars locked down URI in the second half after allowing them to shoot 44% in the first. Rhode Island shot just 31% from the field and went 1-8 from 3 in the second half. Cooley was thrilled with his team’s second half toughness after he thought they lacked it in the first.

Twitter: @Kevin_Farrahar



  1. Bob Dugan

    December 4, 2016 at 11:42 am

    Not to much to add, good job reporting.I was on the edge of my seat the entire game. Have to admit, I didn’t think it looked good a couple of times.
    With Cooley, the Friars don’t quit. They had the same intensity against Virginia. They may get beat by a better team, but they give it their best shot.
    Congrats to the Friars, lets hope they can keep it going. Looks like this is the best Big East since the re-organization.

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