Friar Basketball

Friars Win Overtime Thriller at Marquette

Maliek White

Apparently, Providence wasn’t ready to give up on the season just yet. The Friars won their fourth game in a row, and second consecutive on the road, in an 81-80 overtime thriller at Marquette.

Where do we start with this one?

How about with the clutch shooting of sophomore AJ Reeves? Reeves had been kept out of the scoring column until Maliek White threw a pretty behind-the-back pass to him on the break for a dunk to make it 59-56 Friars at the 5:41 mark of the second half.

The final five minutes of regulation were a back-and-forth struggle. Marquette’s Brendan Bailey made a pair of free throws with 18 seconds left to give the Golden Eagles a three point lead, but Reeves hit a deep, contested 3-pointer with four seconds on the clock. The game then went to overtime where Reeves again stepped up for the Friars.

He scored on a tough left-handed layup on Providence’s first possession of overtime and came up with a steal 15 seconds later. Reeves later snapped a 75-75 tie with his second 3-pointer of the game — this one coming with 1:23 left in overtime.

After Bailey tied the game on a challenged 3-pointer, Kalif Young tipped home a miss with just over 30 seconds to go. Providence then forced a jump ball, Luwane Pipkins made one of two free throws to push the lead to three, and then PC survived fouling Bailey on a 3-pointer with four seconds left. Bailey made the first two free throws before missing on the third.

For the second time in three Big East games Reeves has shown that seeing the ball go through the basket can get him going in a hurry. Against Georgetown he scored his first basket on a post up, then made a short jumper while being fouled. He followed with a trio of 3-pointers later in the half. His shot against Marquette brought back memories of his game-tying deep one at Boston College in the closing seconds last season.

While Reeves’ shot was the headliner, this truly was a team effort. Marquette superstar Markus Howard scored 39 points, but it took him 33 shots to get there. Providence did a good job of slowing Koby McEwen (2-10) and Sacar Anim (3-11).

Perhaps most encouraging for Friar fans, PC survived an early second half outburst from Marquette.

When these two teams met a season ago in Milwaukee, Providence led 33-25 at halftime, but was outscored 54-35 in the second half.

On Tuesday, PC’s 32-27 halftime advantage quickly turned into a 43-35 deficit in the opening five minutes of the second. That run was sparked by a pair of 3-pointers by Howard and two more by Bailey on consecutive possessions.

That’s when Providence started to bully Marquette inside on the offensive end, with Nate Watson going to work and Alpha Diallo picking up a tough offensive rebound and score. Watson finished with 13 points off the bench, while Diallo had 12 points, 11 rebounds, three blocks and a steal.

The Friar guards were strong on both ends on this one. Maliek White turned in his second great performance in a row, taking a career high 13 free throws and scoring 19 points. David Duke scored 12 points and had five assists. Duke and White exerted tremendous energy tracking Howard all night, yet still the duo combined for just one turnover in a combined 67 minutes on the floor. They also connected on a huge alley oop late when White tossed it high to Duke for a finish.

Kalif Young’s nine points were important. He made 3-4 at the free throw line and knocked down a pair of jump shots.

It wasn’t perfect — Providence struggled at the free throw line and turned the ball over twice in the final two minutes of regulation — but this team hasn’t stopped playing hard, despite a slow start to the season.

Now suddenly, we have a big game on our hands this Friday night at the Dunk. Providence still has considerable work to do to dig itself out of the hole a 6-6 start to the season created, but with a win over Texas followed by a 3-0 start in the Big East, the entire feeling around this program has flipped.

We will see that firsthand when Butler comes to Providence for a 9pm start in front of what should be a raucous Dunkin Donuts Center crowd. The Bulldogs are ranked 6th in the country, and provide another opportunity for a quality win for the Friars.

Time and again, Ed Cooley’s teams have appeared to be on their last leg — perhaps none as early as the 2019-20 Friars — but there’s life in this program once again.

And one request, if I may. Keep the throwbacks.



  1. Kurt'92

    January 8, 2020 at 5:27 am

    Good job getting the article out so quickly. I was screaming at Cooley to take out Reeves in the closing minutes. His shot looked horrible tonight. Happy to be proven wrong. I really thought Diallo had a nice stroke during the past two seasons…but now his FT shooting is too much of a weakness for a pre-season 1st team BE selection. Watson has to work on his passing. Our guard play is getting much better. If Friar defense stays this good, they will win games (Howard lit us up, but he’s a lottery pick). Suddenly, it’s a big game this weekend…

  2. Anonymous

    January 8, 2020 at 6:58 am

    The Friar’s aggressive defense is the catalyst for the offense, especially when it provokes turnovers. That and their offensive rebounding are the keys to their recent successes. This team should only get better with more experience. Need to work on their free-throwing. No telling where they could end up.

  3. B Hall

    January 8, 2020 at 11:10 am

    Still not ready to jump back on the band wagon. Foul shooting is still the bane of this team, should have won in regulation. I do give Them credit for Their toughness in overcoming the shoddy foul shooting, but if They don’t fix it, it’s going to bite Them in the ass.

  4. Wally

    January 8, 2020 at 3:42 pm

    This was the best game the Friars have played in the last 2 years!! Non stop offense/defense. Emotional win for sure, This would have been a terrible loss BUT it is a great WIN!!! White has done a 180!! He is a huge part of the team now. They have confidence in him and he has a whole lot of confidence. Friars survived a couple of very bad calls right at the end, The one on Duke was AWFUL!!! Friars had the same energy from beginning to end!! I haven’t seen that in a very long times. GOFRIARSBABY!!

  5. Irish Spectre

    January 8, 2020 at 3:56 pm

    …thrilled to see Reeves fulfill his recruiting billing, thrilled to see White emerging, and thrilled to see the contribution so widely dispersed. Five Friars hit double digits, plus Young had nine, and Diallo did his double-double routine. …agree that the defensive side play was equally critical, and that they stick with the throwback warmups (as ugly as they are.)

    That’s a late start Fri.; it must be because of TV. Go Friars.

  6. Marty

    January 8, 2020 at 6:02 pm

    I’ve watched every game this year and by far the best defensive effort that they have played. What a game. Each player was covering for each other. I mention yesterday if A.J. can get his shot back from last year it will open up the inside game for our big guys. Keep up the great work on defense and let’s get another win on Friday.

  7. Dolf

    January 8, 2020 at 6:42 pm

    Defensive effort was great, especially on Howard. Don’t know how he still ended up with 40. Cooley should run more plays for Nate and Reeves early on, they are so much better when they see the ball go in the basket. Nate stopped the bleeding early in the second half. He must play more “upright” and go towards the basket instead of falling away. Diallo hasn’t improved at all, may have regressed.

    Boneheaded passing turnovers and free throws are still biggest problem.

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