It’s 15 years later, but Providence College avenged their last millisecond heartbreaking loss to Texas from 2003 tonight. All good things are worth the wait and the Friars looked good on Friday night.
Led by superstar guard Alpha Diallo, who poured in 20 points on the evening, and 14 points off the bench from forward Isaiah Jackson–the Friars prevailed by a score of 71-65. The victory gives the Friars their second major road win this season after beating Boston College earlier this month.
The Friars took the lead early in the first half and led most of the game. But the team led by as little as just one point in the second half, and relied on some clutch plays from Diallo, Jackson, and center Nate Watson down the stretch.
The game also marked the reemergence of Makai Ashton-Langford, the highly recruited sophomore guard who has seen limited playing time and shown tentative play on the floor when he was had chances. Not tonight, however. Although his stat-line is still less than impressive–he scored 5 points on 2-3 shooting from the floor, grabbed 4 rebounds, and dished out an assist–he made some big impact plays in the game.
Ashton-Langford got onto the floor halfway through the second half after star freshman David Duke committed his fourth foul. Ashton-Langford played with considerable poise, looking very much like the team-leader he was expected to be when the Friars lured him away from UCONN two years ago. Ashton-Langford grabbed key defensive rebounds down the stretch and nailed a key three-pointed with just 4 minutes left in the game.
Ashton-Langford played so well that Coach Ed Cooley opted to keep him into the game until the finish, instead of inserting Duke back into the game.
That’s a good sign for the Friars moving forward. The team won its third consecutive game, all of which without superstar guard A.J. Reeves, who was averaging 14.3 points per game. Depth will remain a key moving forward for the Friars, who are seeking their sixth straight NCAA tournament bid.
Texas, for their part, was largely doomed by poor shooting. The longhorns shot just 25-percent from the three point line, making only 6 of 24. The Friars played a stifling zone defense for most of the game. Without good outside shooting, Texas was fighting an uphill battle, which they lost.
The win moves the Friars to 10-3 and completed the non-conference portion of their schedule. Next up is a home game against Creighton, at 4:00 p.m. on New Year’s Eve.