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Late Game Execution Dooms PC
- Updated: February 9, 2017
What does Bill Belichick always preach? Situational football?
Situational basketball hasn’t been a strong suit for Providence this season, which fell 72-70 at Seton Hall on Wednesday night in yet another game they had an opportunity to close out, but failed to do the little things late.
The Friars led by as many as 15 points in the first half, but saw that lead cut to one before they hit halftime, yet it was their execution down the stretch that ultimately did them in.
With just over five minutes to play and his team trailing by two, Ed Cooley drew up a perfect backdoor play out of a timeout for Kyron Cartwright (13 points, 5 assists, 6-17 shooting) who missed an open layup that would have tied it.
A minute later, Jalen Lindsey (8 points, 12 rebounds) air-balled an off-balance 3-pointer.
Cartwright traveled on Providence’s next possession.
Freshman Alpha Diallo was fouled on a layup attempt with 3:04 remaining in the second half and the Friars down four. He was coming off of a terrific effort against Villanova in which he scored 18 points, but drew Cooley’s postgame ire by missing a critical free throw in the closing minutes.
Diallo split the pair at the line to cut the lead to three, but it was another missed opportunity for the Friars.
While the offensive execution wasn’t there, the defensive effort kept Providence afloat. They held Seton Hall to just one field goal in the final seven minutes of regulation — a dunk off of an offensive rebound. Emmitt Holt was particularly tough against the Big East’s most physical player, Angel Delgado, in a bruising paint battle.
A pair of Rodney Bullock free throws pulled Providence to within a point with 1:30 remaining, and after another solid defensive possession led to a shot clock violation on the other end, PC had a chance to take a lead with under a minute left.
Cooley once again drew up a play to get his team a great shot. The Friars set a double screen for Holt on the post, and before the defense could collapse on him inside, Holt found Bullock for a wide open 18 footer at the top of the key which he promptly knocked down to put Providence ahead by a point with 36 seconds to play.
The Hall had gone 3:28 without a point when they drew a foul two seconds into the shot clock on the ensuing possession, as Diallo reached in on a drive by Desi Rodgriguez who made one of two to tie it with just over 30 seconds to go.
Cooley chose not to use his final timeout with the game tied, and the result was disastrous for the Friars.
PC simply took too long to get into their set, with Diallo handing the ball off to Cartwright well beyond the 3-point line with four seconds to play. PC didn’t get a shot off, and survived a Seton Hall prayer at the buzzer as the game went to overtime.
The overtime session was filled with more missed opportunities.
Holt was fouled on a layup on the first possession of the extra session, but missed a very make-able shot at the rim. He then front-rimmed his first free throw and made the second, turning what could have been a momentum-swinging 3-point play into a single point.
Cartwright put PC back up on their next possession on a pretty step-back jumper, and PC led by three after Bullock kept a rebound alive that Lindsey gathered and dished to Diallo for a layup over Delgado to push Providence ahead three with 3:00 left.
Delgado cut the lead to one with a layup, leading to another lost opportunity, as Cartwright missed the front-end of a 1-1 at the free throw line with 2:15 on the clock. Seton Hall countered with a gut-punch of a 3-pointer on the other end.
Holt came through clutch late in the final two minutes of overtime — making a difficult hook shot with the shot clock running down to tie the game at 68 and then knocking down a pair of free throws with 38 seconds left to tie the game once again.
As clutch as Holt’s hook and late free throws were, he had yet another good opportunity at a 3-point play coming off of a pick and roll from Cartwright. His layup came up short, however, and his two free throws could only tie it.
Seton Hall freshman Myles Powell made a difficult leaner with under 10 seconds to play and Cartwright put up a fadeaway that missed at the buzzer as Providence lost another close one.
With the loss Providence falls to 14-11 on the season and 4-8 in the Big East, but it will likely be their late game execution that will continue to keep Cooley awake at night.
The Friars led by nine with under two minutes to play before falling apart at DePaul. They led for most of the second half at home against St. John’s before seeing their lead slip away in the final minute and a half. And after closing to two in the final two minutes against Villanova last week, the Wildcats closed on a 7-0 run.
Providence was terrific in these situations a year ago, but they simply haven’t been able to close in 2017.