After 40 very sloppy minutes of clawing, grasping, and other motions that technically qualify as basketball, the Providence College Friars found themselves on top of their recent rivals, the USF Bulls, taking it 68-63. Breaking a four-game losing streak to USF, the Friars found their big advantage in free throws, consistently making their way to the line (a 28-12 advantage), and sinking 10-15 in the pivotal second half. Marshon Brooks led the way with a quiet 24 points, but seemed to hit clutch threes whenever his team most needed them, going 3-6 from beyond the arc. In their first home game since topping Villanova, Brooks also clearly was emotional throughout the entire contest, barking at officials, and screaming, “Oh, sit!” after a missed free throw (not a typo; thanks for cleaning it up, Marshon!).
Perhaps PC’s most unheralded hero was 7’0” fifth-year senior Ray Hall. After being out-bodied, out-rebounded, and out-blocked early, and with starter Bilal Dixon in significant foul trouble, it was time for Hall to step in. And step in he did. While not the most skilled offensive player, Hall’s sheer presence for a significant number of minutes was the story, altering many Bulls shots during his 13 minutes, and technically going 1-1 from the floor (although he had trouble corralling many a rebound, but who’s counting?). The fans often derisively cheered Hall, which doesn’t seem fair; he literally helped PC to a nice, solid win this evening.
In what amounted to a fairly uninspired effort by both teams, temporarily punctuated by a few clutch USF 3’s towards the end of the second half, the Friars luckily came out on top. While they will not return to the Dunk until Thursday, February 17th, they are about to face a significant challenge on the road against Georgetown on Saturday before travelling to Storrs to face the Huskies. It certainly doesn’t get any easier for PC, but, having won 3 out of 4 games, maybe these Friars are finally beginning to gel.