Friar Basketball

Maliek White, Emmitt Holt Key as Providence Beats DePaul

Maliek White Friars.com

The Friars aren’t ready to give up on this season just yet. Following a disappointing 6-6 start to the season, Providence has rebounded with three straight wins — the most recent a 66-65 victory over an improved DePaul team on Saturday afternoon. 

Nate Watson was the hero late, making a free throw with 0.1 on the clock to push PC ahead in a game they really deserved to win. DePaul’s Paul Reed (24 points, 15 rebounds) may have been the best player on the floor on Saturday, but the Friars leaned on veterans Maliek White and Emmitt Holt in critical moments while Alpha Diallo sat for a long stretch of the second half due to foul trouble. 

White was outstanding in this one. The senior from Virginia had not scored in double figures since putting up back to back games of 20 and 15 points against Merrimack and Pennsylvania in November. Against DePaul, White (16 points) made big shot after big shot. He hit a pair of 3-pointers in the first half to give PC some early breathing room, but the second half was when he made his biggest plays.

Diallo went to the bench with his fourth foul at the 10:50 mark of the second in a 50-50 tie. A Holt layup broke the tie, and White followed that bucket up with a huge 3-pointer to push the lead to 55-50. A White layup made it 57-50, and then Holt knocked down a corner 3-pointer to finish off a 10-0 run that gave Providence a 10 point lead with six minutes remaining.

DePaul quickly countered with a 6-0 run of its own, highlighted by a jumper and layup by Reed. PC came out of a timeout up 60-56 with Diallo back in the lineup. Ed Cooley drew up a terrific play out of the timeout to get White a backdoor dunk from Diallo.

Providence led by six with 1:27 to go after a Luwane Pipkins layup, but DePaul countered with a 3-pointer six seconds later. Pipkins forced an ill-advised shot on PC’s ensuing possession, then Kalif Young fouled Jalen Coleman-Lands on a 3-pointer attempt. Coleman-Lands made all three shots to tie the game. 

That led to a wild final sequence in which White drove the lane and was off on a layup. An offensive rebound slipped through Diallo’s hands in heavy traffic, and then Watson was fouled by Reed grabbing the loose ball.

Watson, shooting 37% at the free throw line coming into Saturday, badly missed his first attempt before swishing the second. Watson tipped away the inbounds pass after his made free throw, and was mobbed by his teammates as the final buzzer sounded. 

With the win Providence has started 2-0 in conference play for the first time since Kris Dunn was leading the Friars. 

DePaul had been perhaps the story of the Big East through December. The Demons entered this one 12-2 overall, having just let one slip away against Seton Hall last week. Prior to that they had defeated a slew of high major schools, including Minnesota, Texas Tech, Northwestern, and Boston College. Reed is likely a first round pick in the spring’s draft should he choose to go pro. Providence limited their leading scorer, Charlie Moore, to 4-12 shooting, and also held down impressive freshman Romeo Weems (2-9) and the sharpshooting Illinois transfer Coleman-Lands (4-13, 1-7 from 3). 

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Cooley has to feel good about winning on the road on a day in which Alpha Diallo shoots 1-5 from the field and doesn’t take a free throw, while Nate Watson shoots 2-8. They pulled out a tight one with Diallo and David Duke both not scoring in the second half.

Duke’s length was a factor in this one, both defensively and on the glass. He finished with seven points, five rebounds, and five assists, but more importantly kept two critical rebounds alive in traffic in the second half.

Saturday’s game is what makes Pipkins a polarizing player. He caught fire in the second half, making four 3-pointers in the first five minutes after the halftime break. They were timely shots as well — two of them gave PC the lead, the other snapped a tie, while the fourth bumped a 45-42 lead to 48-42 at the 14:44 mark.

Pipkins later found Watson for a layup in a one point game with around 12 minutes to go, and then dished to Holt for a layup to snap a tie at the 9:55 mark.

Cooley was less than pleased with his team’s shot selection in the second half against Georgetown earlier this week, and said it would be an emphasis in practice. He felt like his players were looking to score ahead of making the right play.

There were moments in the closing minutes of this one in which it was fair to wonder if Pipkins was looking to put DePaul away by himself in his hometown of Chicago. He forced a bad shot with just over two minutes left with PC ahead 63-56. The bad shot led to a DePaul 3-pointer seven seconds later to slice the lead to four.

Pipkins countered with a difficult layup in traffic with 1:30 on the clock, but then made a bad decision in the final minute. Providence got a stop with 45 seconds to go up three points. Instead of milking the clock, Pipkins went for the kill shot. He drove into traffic and was called for a charge with 32 seconds left. 

Without Pipkins’ 3-point outburst early in the second half, Providence may not win this one, but his decision making late could have been costly.

Friar freshman Greg Gantt played just five minutes, but was impressive, calming knocking down a mid-range jumper and then coming up with a steal and a dunk soon after. 

With the win, Providence improves to 9-6 on the season, 2-0 in Big East play, and returns to the floor on Tuesday to take on Marquette. The Golden Eagles defeated #10 Villanova on Saturday behind 29 points from Markus Howard. Howard leads the Big East in scoring, averaging 25.6 points per game.

8 Comments

  1. Carleto

    January 5, 2020 at 4:56 am

    You have to realize most PC basketball fans from RI treat this team as a pro basketball team. As unfair as that may be it’s just a fact.
    I have seen a big change over the past three games PC is now playing with purpose as a team. The effort is clear to see along with smart execution as a team unit. Keep up the great work young men and coaches.

  2. Wally

    January 5, 2020 at 1:36 pm

    GOFRIARS BABY!!!

  3. Joshua

    January 5, 2020 at 3:28 pm

    I love the friars lets go! Was worried but starting 2 and 0 in the big east has me feeling very optomistic. I love this team.

  4. Irish Spectre

    January 5, 2020 at 7:00 pm

    …big win on the road vs. a quality opponent, notable especially given that their best all-around player (Diallo) had to miss lots of minutes, and was very quiet otherwise, though his pinpoint perfect dish to White for that late layup was critical.

    The first thing a huge follower of college basketball friend of mine said when we were talking in the off season about Pipkins coming is that he’s selfish. There’s an argument to be made for that, but it might more be that his game is inherently “spontaneous.” Anyway, on balance he was obviously a major factor in the win.

    …big kudos to White as the no. 1 star, but Watson carries a heavy load as the big, is very athletic, and does a lot of things that don’t show on the score sheet. Holt’s a great story; how awesome would it be for him personally, not to mention for Friartown, if he’s finally returning to his pre-sickness trajectory?

    Duke’s absence from the score sheet is very notable also; yesterday showcased the significant team depth that I think Coach had been envisioning from the beginning. Keep it rolling, Friars.

  5. Peter

    January 6, 2020 at 12:46 am

    Irish I disagree with you,the best all around played on PC is David Duke not Diallo he is so overrated (Diallo) yes he has played better the last few games by finally scoring down low under the basket but he has been so inconsistent and his foul shooting is always a adventure. Duke great defender always plays the opponent best player plus handling the ball he is PC best player.plus his outside shooting has improved so much.David Duke is so much more valuable to the FRIARS than Diallo.

  6. Irish Spectre

    January 6, 2020 at 1:44 am

    For the record, I didn’t realize that Duke had 7 when I commented; that’s my bad, and I also realize that his value’s very much on both sides of the ball. Anyway, you make good points re Duke, but he’s really game-to-game, like pretty much all of the Friars thus far this year, which is a big reason why they’re in a hole. Duke and (especially) Reeves have thus far fallen short of the recruiting hype. …but both, especially Duke, have undoubtedly shown flashes of what that hype’s based on. When you look at the key offensive and defensive stats on the whole, Diallo’s ahead of Duke and every other Friar, though in fairness to you, he’s averaged 1.7 min. more time per game than Duke.

    I don’t care who gets it done, just so long as someone does! On paper, Providence is very deep; maybe they’re finally starting to convert paper into practice.

  7. JIm Jackson

    January 6, 2020 at 4:01 pm

    Road win against a good team, where they have had trouble winning in the past.

    Once again one has to look at the body of work and ask ‘What’s changed?’ Something has obviously changed to give the team a chemistry they were obviously lacking earlier in the year.

    I felt bad for Nate Watson being put in the cooker like he was but that final shot had to be a confidence builder for him – something he can carry forward through the season and through his life. He made the shot when the game was on the line.

    Good to see whatever was going on resolved.

  8. Marty

    January 6, 2020 at 6:55 pm

    David Duke is playing the best right now. Great move by coach putting Emit Holt in starting line up has made a big difference. We need to find out what happen to A.J. Reeves jump shot. If he can get it back like last year this team can go a long way. Let’s go get them tomorrow.