Friday, January 12, 2018

Providence 71, DePaul 64: Friars' second half outburst caps an up and down night

Photo Credit: Geno Green

CHICAGO— Life can be a dose of ups and downs.

The Providence Friars (12-6, 3-2 Big East) played the role to a tee as a 22-0 second half run over an 8:17 stretch played a pivotal role in a 71-64 win over the DePaul Blue Demons (8-9, 1-4 Big East) at Wintrust Arena on Friday night.

Before responding in the second half, the Friars faced turbulence for more than a quarter of the game as they overcame a 12:02 scoring drought. The bland play on the court put Providence in a 46-34 deficit 3:20 into the second half after Marin Maric drained a three-pointer from the wing, which had the DePaul home crowd on cloud nine.

The energy turned into silence in a matter of moments as Alpha Diallo gave PC a much needed lift on offense by scoring eight of the next 10 points to highlight the massive run to retake the lead at 56-46. 14 of Diallo’s 16 points came in the second half after overcoming an 0-for-4 effort from the field in the first half.

“[Alpha] showed versatility, but was frustrated at halftime as he missed a couple of wide open shots, but you have to show confidence in your players,” Providence coach Ed Cooley said. “We as coaches tend to look at things from a negative perspective, but we as coaches have to be patient with 18-to-22 year olds and tell them it is okay to make a mistake, but grow up in the process and he was fortunate to have a big second half.”

When things looked comfortable for Providence with its largest lead at 66-53, DePaul put together one last surge on an 11-1 run, but would not be enough as Max Strus missed a potential game-tying three-pointer with 20 seconds left as Jalen Lindsey and Rodney Bullock swarmed all over on the wing. Isaiah Jackson found an open Bullock on the other end for the layup to put the Friars up 69-64 and would not look back.

“Basketball is a game of runs and to try to keep players poised,” Cooley said. “DePaul showed resiliency fighting back and their guard play was phenomenal and we tried to limit Strus’s touches, which was Jalen [Lindsey] and Kyron [Cartwright]’s job and thought they did a really good job because Max is a phenomenal player.”

The suffocating Friars defense played a large part in Strus going of 3-of-13 from the field (eight points), which held the junior to his second-lowest scoring output of the season. Despite the struggles, Cooley gave credit to Strus’s play outside of the Providence game.

“Jalen [Lindsey] took it personal when it came to guarding Max Strus and he is supposed to given he is a senior. He’s been around and we depend on him," Cooley said. "If we had a newcomer of the year award, Strus would be my choice, which is something Val [Ackerman] should consider at some point."

Four Friar players finished in double figures scoring as Lindsey spearheaded the effort with a game-high 18 points, on 6-of-10 from the field in 37 minutes.

Game Recap:

Lindsey set the tone early for Providence on the back end of a crisp alley-oop pass from Kyron Cartwright and a triple from the wing for a 5-0 lead.

Maric countered with six straight points and a steal for the Blue Demons, but the Friars kept their composure by going on an 8-2 run, highlighted by a long range make from Lindsey.

Providence’s defense made life difficult for Strus early as it gave little to no room to create plays. Maric continued to benefit from the extra Friar pressure as he converted on open layups for the Blue Demons.

With any great shooter, silence can only go for so long and Strus responded with a layup in the paint over a contested Kalif Young and a three-pointer on the next possession to keep DePaul in range at 22-17 with 11:46 left in the first half.

The Friars responded with more firepower on offense as they went on a 7-0 run over a 1:38 stretch for their largest lead at 29-18. With Maric on the bench with two fouls at the 8:00 mark in the first half, the Blue Demons relied on Jaylen Butz and came through with eight straight points to keep them in range as the Friars clung to a 31-28 lead.

Providence did itself no favors by going without a field goal conversion over the final 8:42 of the first half, which witnessed DePaul erase an 11-point deficit. The Blue Demons dominated in the frontcourt with a combined 18 points from Butz and Maric as they took a 35-34 lead into the locker room.

Diallo’s lift on offense put Providence up 56-46 and led the rest of the way to propel them to its fourth win in the last five games.

Looking Ahead:

Both teams return to action on Jan. 15 as the Friars host the Butler Bulldogs for a 3:30 p.m. tip, while the Blue Demons head approximately 90 minutes north to Milwaukee to play regional rivals in the Marquette Golden Eagles at 8 p.m. Both games can be seen on FS1.

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