There comes a time when a fanbase can no longer keep accepting more victories year after year. Eventually, the team needs to produce wins out on the court. However, given the circumstances of PC’s 55-52 loss last night to Penn State in OT, it was hard not to be pleased with the effort and fight despite another tough loss to swallow in Puerto Rico.
If anyone happened to check the score of the game at the half without knowing any of the specifics (Bryce Cotton being the next Friar casualty, missing the game with a sore ankle leaving the Friars with 5 scholarship players), they may have been confused by what college sport was actually being played. “Wait, did Providence College bring back the football squad?” “16-14? That must have been one of the worst collective performances in a half in all of college basketball this season.” Despite the ridiculous low score, it was actually exactly what Ed Cooley wanted — A slow, hard fought game that PC could survive in.
In the 2nd half, PC’s defense continued to hold on strong. Penn State couldn’t shoot from anywhere (even at the foul line), was unable to push the pace to try to wear out the thin Friars, and had trouble generally holding on the ball. PC’s offense was just good enough to actually create a 10 point lead at one point. However as the rest of the game went on, the effects of not having a true point guard on the court began to show. The Friars began to the turn over the ball and Penn State was able to take advantage. At the 9:55 mark, Ed Cooley’s “Sexy Six” had a 6 point lead (which at the time might as well have been 20). The next three possessions resulted in Friar turnovers, 2 by walk on Ted Bancroft. That wasn’t even the stretch that did the Fightin’ Friars in, but it probably gave Penn State some momentum and confidence to finally start scoring with a little more regularity. What did do PC in was a 4 minute stretch starting at the 7 minute mark. Poor Josh Fortune had 3 of his 7 turnovers during this time, allowing Penn State to erase PC’s stranglehold over the game. Kadeem Batts had two clutch foul shots to regain the lead with a minute left, but Penn State was finally able to hit a three pointer after struggling for the entire night. That was the best chance PC had to steal the victory.
By the time overtime came around, PC was gassed. Their three point shot wasn’t falling, and Penn State got some production from a key steal and a timely offensive rebound . It was a valiant effort overall, and so close to an improbable win as you will see against an opponent like Penn State. Even though it was a loss, the team showed fight and toughness, some players showed great potential going forward, and Ed Cooley showed that he is a damn good coach.
Someone on Twitter said that Josh Fortune was going to end up being a sophomore by the time the tournament was over, and they were probably right. He had 7 turnovers, but could you blame him? He’s a freshman shooting guard who had to play the point the ENTIRE game. Even with all that going on, Fortune managed to still hit a couple of threes, and some very impressive fallaway mid range jumpers. Very impressed with this young man.
Kadeem Batts continues to be aggresive and the leader on offense while PC’s backcourt heals. Although he wasn’t really efficient overall, Batts killed it at the line. He finished 13-15, with four of those makes being with under a minute left to either tie or give the Friars the lead.
LaDontae Henton had another rough game with poor shooting and key turnovers. For the 2nd night in a row, he was also flagged for some questionable calls. What do these guys have against Henton? Did he steal their beach towel or cut them in the line at the hotel breakfast buffet or something?
There was a point where the Friars were 3 fouls away from having to play with 4 players. I was fully expecting this to happen, because why the hell not?
The gym was pretty quiet at times, and people watching on ESPN3 were treated to a nice yelling moment from Ed Cooley: “MOVE THE MOTHERF&***NG BALL!”
Ted Bancroft played 45 minutes. He played 27 all of last year.
Ed Cooley Post game quotes:
“Obviously, we came here to win. But when we came here, all hell broke loose”
“We’ll be all right once we get a couple of healthy bodies. I couldn’t be more proud of our guys — everybody did something. It was a great game for us.”
“Couldn’t be more proud… the players that played gave PC an identity today. Very proud of Josh Fortune”
“Don’t ever feel sorry for the Friars. There are people that would beg to be in that locker room. Doesn’t matter if we have 2 or 5 guys”
“So proud of Bancroft. He is a dream for me to coach. He earned his time today by the way he competes in practice”
Other reactions: Friars.com, StateCollege.com, GoLocalProv, Friar Basketball