Friar Basketball

Friars Lose Heartbreaker in Omaha

Duke Closeup

Providence kicked off its toughest stretch of the season with a most painful loss to Creighton on Saturday afternoon. Winners of five of their last six games, PC had a golden opportunity to start the Big East campaign 5-1 when they led by five points with a minute and a half to play.

The Friars got there on the back of sophomore David Duke, who was simply spectacular. Duke scored a career high 36 points, with 24 of those coming in a seesaw second half.

Creighton led by eight early in the second, but Duke seemingly wouldn’t be denied. Just how hot was Duke in the final 20 minutes of this one? He shot 9-11 from the field, and 4-5 from three, with each shot bigger than the one he’d hit previously.

“David is the hardest working player I’ve ever coached,” Ed Cooley said after the game. “He’s in the gym morning, noon, and night, and I’m really happy for him that it’s paying off.”

“Duke was a problem. He was hard, hard to guard,” Creighton coach Greg McDermott told the press afterwards. “Today we came back and stole one that we probably didn’t deserve because Providence was really good.”

Providence was good on Saturday, and they played hard. They just weren’t good enough in the final two minutes.

A pair of Duke free throws with 1:41 to play gave PC a 74-69 advantage, marking the first time this one had not been a one possession game since a Duke three at the 8:44 mark made it 57-53. With a stop, this game was likely over.

Creighton countered with a Ty-Shon Alexander 3-pointer to cut it to 74-72, forced Providence into a desperation jumper by Alpha Diallo late in the shot clock that didn’t come close, and then tied it when Alexander banked home a short jumper with 37 seconds on the clock.

Duke lost control of the ball on Providence’s next possession, and Creighton sophomore Marcus Zegarowski dribbled the length of the court and buried a three of his own with two seconds left on the clock.

It was a backbreaking shot against a Friar team that had managed to win a pair of one point games on the road at DePaul and Marquette in their previous two conference road games.

PC’s next four games come at Seton Hall (who improved to 6-0 in Big East games Saturday), home against Villanova (4-1, 2nd in the league), at Butler, and a return date with Creighton.

Say what you will about the 2019-20 Friars — they have had their shooting woes, they started terribly through the season’s first 12 games, and late game execution killed them on Saturday — but they have continued to battle. They had 19 offensive rebounds on Saturday and responded repeatedly over the final 10 minutes against a Creighton team desperate for a win.

Duke was the only Friar in double figures in scoring on Saturday afternoon — a game in which fellow sophomore AJ Reeves was sidelined for a second straight game with concussion-like symptoms. Outside of Duke, perhaps no Friar fought harder than Kalif Young, who had an impactful stretch in the second half in which he repeatedly drew fouls in rebounding action and twice broke up lob attempts. Young finished with 10 rebounds before fouling out in 18 minutes.

One Comment

  1. Anonymous

    January 19, 2020 at 4:29 pm

    Well Derec I think you said it all

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