Friar Basketball

Senior Night Turns Into Richly Deserved Celebration

Diallo Dunking Providence College Athletics

For the first time since — well, maybe all season, Providence could breathe easy heading into the halftime locker room on Saturday night.

Ed Cooley’s bunch dominated the first half against DePaul on Senior Night, racing out to a 55-25 advantage at the break behind 17 points from AJ Reeves and a healthy 11 point, five rebound, four assist stat line for Alpha Diallo in his last game at the Dunk.

This was indeed the last game in this building for the seniors, as they wrapped up one of the most improbable turnarounds in Providence basketball history. The NIT will not be returning to the Dunk in 2020. These Friars are going dancing.

The win was PC’s nineteenth on the season and number twelve in Big East play. Providence had never won twelve conference games in program history.

Providence closed the season with six straight wins, including three over top 20 teams, and a fourth against tournament hopeful Xavier. In its last 10 Big East games, PC has gone 8-2 and taken out all five of the nationally ranked opponents they faced. This senior class will be making its third NCAA tournament appearance in four years.

Senior Night for Diallo, Kalif Young, Emmitt Holt, Maliek White, and Luwane Pipkins turned into a two hour celebration, as DePaul (at one point 9-0 this season with wins over Texas Tech, Boston College, and Minnesota — remember the “rank DePaul” movement on Twitter?) never challenged the Friars.

The Blue Demons were without star Paul Reed, but it would not have mattered much on this night. Providence has overcome too much to falter to DePaul on Senior Night.

Little went wrong for PC on Saturday. They made 21 of 26 free throw attempts, shot 43% from deep, enjoyed a 23-6 points off of turnovers advantage, and led for nearly 39 minutes.

The scoring came from everywhere. Reeves made four first half 3-pointers. Pipkins scored all 12 of his points in first half, including a baseline floater that he somewhere snuck around the backboard. Nate Watson went for 18 points and eight rebounds, David Duke took an aggressive approach in the second half (12 of his 16 points), and Holt provided perhaps the feel-good moment of the game when he knocked down a 3 of his own in the second half. Diallo finished with 17 points, eight rebounds, and four assists.

The result was a 93-55 thrashing of the Demons.

Providence is the fourth seed in next week’s Big East Tournament (finishing a game out of first place) and will take on Butler on Thursday afternoon (2:30pm). With a win there, they would likely meet top seeded Creighton in the second round. Providence split with both teams this season.

The Friars are playing for NCAA tournament seeding in the Big East Tournament, which would have seemed so utterly ridiculous if someone had suggested it after losses to Northwestern, Long Beach State, Penn, and Charleston — and ugly defeats at the hands of URI and Florida.

If you are tired of hearing about November losses, you aren’t alone. It has been impossible to tell the story of the 2019-20 Friars without mention of it, but this team regrouped in a way few teams could over the past two months.

Saturday night was the celebration that these seniors, and their teammates, deserved after an exhaustingly long stretch of playing with their backs to the wall.

Providence is headed back to the NCAA tournament.

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