After Historic Second Half Rally, Friars Get Past Xavier in Overtime, Reach Big East Final

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Perseverance.

Toughness.

Grit. 

The Providence College Men’s Basketball team used heavy doses of all three in the second half of Friday night’s semi-final game, where, for the second day in a row, they prevailed in over-time. 

With just under 20 seconds left to play in over-time, Providence, up 1, turned the ball over when Xavier’s Naji Marshall stole it. It looked like the Friars were about to check into heartbreak hotel. 

It helps, however, when you have your own version of superman. 

Providence’s Superman

Who else, but superstar senior guard Kyron Cartwright hustled back on defense. Marshall passed it to J.P. Macura, who drove towards the basket. That’s when Cartwright stepped in front of him. Marcura barreled him over. 

The official signaled a charging foul. That gave the ball to Providence. And it meant it would take a miracle for Xavier to win. None was forthcoming.

PC in-bounded the ball to Alpha Diallo, who was fouled. He swished both free throws. Time expired on Xavier’s final position, before they could even shoot the ball. A celebration at mid-court ensued 

Despite being down 17 points in the first-half, the Friars won 75-72. The win sets up an appearance in the Big East Finals tomorrow at 6:30. 

The win required some ferocious second-half defense from the Friars. They held the Musketeers to only 25 second half points. 

The Friars also played much more aggressively in the second 20-minutes. Providence was constantly on the attack, on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball. Instead of settling for jumpers they went to the basket. 

Put simply: the Friars seemed to want it more in the second half. 

With just under 8 minutes left, Cartwright drove towards the basket, pulled up, and drilled a 10-foot jumper. He flexed his arms while running back on defense. At that moment, the tide turned. PC was controlling the game. 

With just three minutes left, they tied up the score. But Xavier a top-3 ranked team nationally, wasn’t going away quietly. It was a dogfight from there on out.

But over the last 4:00 minutes in the game, the Friars held the Musketeers to no field goals. Whenever they needed a big play, Diallo, Cartwright, or forward Rodney Bullock always seemed to make one. 

When this bus leaves Madison Square Garden tomorrow, will it be bringing the Big East Tournament Champions back to Providence?

Bullock and Diallo led the Friars in scoring, with both putting up 17 points. Cartwright scored 15, 12 of which came after the first half. 

Will They Be Champions Tomorrow?

All three will need to play their best game if the Friars are going to win the championship tomorrow. They’re slated to face the winner of Villanova and Butler. In all likelihood, it will be Villanova, which has a 20 point second half lead at the time of this article’s posting. 

Russell Moore
Russell J. Moore is the publisher and founder of rirelevant.com. He’s been writing about Rhode Island since 2005. You should definitely follow him on twitter @russmoore713. If you want to send him email, you can send it to russmoore713@gmail.com
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