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Providence ignites in 2nd half to beat No. 1 Xavier

Xavier and Providence battling during the semifinals of the Big East Tournament.

New York City, N.Y.- Providence continues to pronounce themselves as they beat No.1 Xavier to advance to the Finals of the Big East Tournament. Down by as many as 17 in the second half, the Friars locked in during the last frame to shock the Musketeers.

Providence was led by Alpha Diallo and Rodney Bullock, who finished with 17 points a piece. Kerem Kanter had a game high 18 points to lead Xavier.

 

Coach Chris Mack/Kerem Kanter addressing the loss to Providence in the Big East tournament

Coach Chris Mack/Kerem Kanter addressing the loss to Providence in the Big East tournament

For much of the first half, it looked like Xavier would run away with the game. Paul Scruggs led the way with 13 first half points. The Musketeers scored 22 points in the paint in the first half and went perfect from the free throw line, pushing the lead to 14.

Providence would not be denied though. Asked about the comeback from Providence, Coach Chris Mack gave credit to the fight the other team displayed.

“Well they didn’t quit, not that we expected them to. Felt like they just turned us over a few times. Told them (Xavier) we missed some shots around the basket, some looks. Providence is a really good defensive team, though, so to say we missed open shots would be a discredit to how well they are on the defensive end.”

Xavier will now have a few days off before finding out their fate on selection Sunday.

Coach. Ed Cooley/Providence players addressing the media after win in the Big East Tournament.

Coach. Ed Cooley/Providence players addressing the media after win in the Big East Tournament.

In addition to the defense, Providence’s offense came alive in the second half and overtime, outscoring Xavier 46-29. The bench gave a huge spark to the Friars scoring 14 points. In addition to Diallo and Bullock, two other friars scored in double figures, as Kyron Cartwright and Nate Watson had 15 and 14, respectively.

For Providence, this win was the 3rd largest deficit overcome by a team in the Big East Tournament. The Friars will look to carry that momentum with them into the Big East Tournament Finals.

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