X Falls at No. 11 Providence in 3OT
Andy Mac Williams,
Muskies effort was massive in Wednesday night's marathon 3 overtime 99-92 loss at BIG EAST leader Providence. It's Xavier's longest game since a 3 OT win over Wofford 94-90 at Cintas in November 2010. This one really hurts!! XU outrebounded rugged PC and shagged 20 offensive boards. They limited Friar post behemoth Nate Watson to 6 shots and 12 points. X forced 17 PC turnovers and shot 21-25 from FT line, but Provi poured in 14 "3s" to XU's 5 makes and Jared Bynum sank X again(winning buzzer "3" at Cintas in January-27 points Wednesday-including 13 in the overtimes and 5 three point FGs. Muskies owned the final possession in regulation and Adam Kunkel missed a baseline 12 footer to win it.
Kunkel was GREAT off the bench w/ 20 points. XU built a 75-70 lead in OT #1. Jack Nunge was grabbed from behind by Al Durham while shooting from maybe 8 feet after a smart high-low bounce pass from Adam Kunkel.
Durham came directly from behind Nunge. There was no play on the ball. He grabbed Jack around the waist w/ one arm and clutched his shoulder w/ the other. Clear Flagrant 1 foul! Nunge made both FTs. The Zebras ruled common foul. X should of had the ball also-up 5 w/ the extra possession.
X led most of the game and just could not extend the margin beyond 5 or 6 points. They forced 17 PC turnovers. PC's dagger "3s" were the difference.
Zach Freemantle played his best game in BIG EAST action(19 points-8 boards-3 steals). Paul Scruggs was superb in the OTS making a buzzer "3" to force the 3rd overtime and scoring 10 points in extra time.
The game took about 3 and a half hours to play w/ the OTs and a moisture issue on the arena floor due to a leaky roof apparently. The Dunkin' Doughnuts Center is ancient-opened in 1972. Time to call Mr. Roof or somebody?
A win at PC would have pretty much wrapped up a Muskie NCAA bid (NET Quad 1 win on the road). XU falls to 17-10 overall and 7-9 BE-tied for 7th w/ St Johns.
Johnnies lost at home to Creighton 81-78. Seton Hall is now solo 6th at 8-8 after surviving at home 66-60 vs Butler. Xavier plays SHU Saturday at Cintas and travels to Queens and St Johns next Wednesday. Muskies' NCAA NET will stay in mid 20s,but they need wins pronto to lock up that NCAA spot for sure.
Nate Johnson did not play(knee soreness). That put a crimp in outside shooting. Cesare Edwards got on the floor briefly (4 minutes) and did well(2 points-1 rebound-1 steal and nice bumping w/ Nate Watson). Cesare was at the scorers' table in 3rd OT as Travis was apparently trying to sub out Jerome Hunter (0-5 FG plus a costly turnover). Ben Stanley also got a tumble in the 1st half and did not look out of place.
Muskies have to bottle the effort and execution they displayed at PC and uncork same vs Seton Hall Saturday at Cintas. It's a magic year for Providence. Now 23-3, 13-2 BIG EAST. Friars clinch BE Title w/ a home win over Creighton Saturday.
PC is 11-1 in games decided by 5 points or fewer or in OT and twice they've taken down Xavier by 3 in Cincy and in 3 OTs at the DUNK!!