Providence pleaded for its inclusion in the Top 25 with an impressive road victory over No.20 UConn.
AJ Reeves scored 16 points and the Friars (11-1) held off the Huskies 57-53 on Saturday in the Big East opener for both teams. Ed Croswell had 11 points and Nate Watson added 10 and seven rebounds for the Friars, who led up to 16 points in the second half but had to hang on late for their sixth straight victory.
“It’s definitely a confidence booster,” said Watson, the team’s fifth-year senior and team manager. “I think this win means a lot to us and it will definitely mean a lot down the stretch. We love road games and winning this victory in front of 16,000 fans gives us energy. “
RJ Cole had 16 points and Tyrese Martin returned from a wrist injury to score 15 for UConn (9-3), who was playing his fourth straight game without top scorer Adama Sanogo. The 6-foot-9 player sits on the sidelines with abdominal tension. Andre Jackson added eight points and 14 rebounds.
Providence scored 11 of the last 12 points of the first half to take a 31-22 lead at the break. The Brothers then extended the race to 17-1, securing three consecutive baskets from Watson, to open the second half. This pushed the lead to 37-22.
“It’s no secret where we are throwing the ball,” said Providence coach Ed Cooley. “Everyone in the league knows he’s going to get it, he’s got to face it.”
A layup from Al Durham gave them their biggest lead at 48-32.
But UConn used a 9-0 run to get back into the game. A driving layup and free throw from Cole reduced the deficit to 48-38 with just over 9 minutes left and a 3-point Andre Jackson brought the score to 48-41.
Providence was leading 55-48 when a blatant elbow from Durham with 2:11 left gave the Huskies a final spark.
Martin had two free throws and a 3-point Tyler Polley cut the deficit to 55-53 with 1:48 remaining, but the Huskies missed their last five shots.
“We fought hard and had a chance, a few shots to equalize, a chance to take the lead there and we just couldn’t get that shot to really get the tie or the lead.” , said UConn coach Dan Hurley. the first of 20 of these types of (conference) games. ”
Providence: The Friars are now 10-6 against UConn in Hartford and have won their last four meetings at the XL Center.
UConn: Martin has started, seeing his first action since his left wrist injury in the Bahamas in late November. He played with the wrist tightly wrapped for over 33 minutes and also picked up five rebounds.
The Huskies’ second loss in three games will likely take them out of the Top 25 AP, where they could be replaced by the Friars, who have already claimed non-conference victories in Wisconsin and against Texas Tech and Northwestern.
“We thought we should have been classified before the conference game,” said guard Jaren Bynum. “We were playing for that respect and it was just another team that was in our way.”
Providence only shot 39.7% from the ground, but kept the Huskies 31.1% (19 of 61) from the ground and almost 29 points below their season average. The Friars also outscored UConn in the paint 34-22.
After UConn ran his run that reduced a 16-point lead to seven midway through the second half, Bynum hit a 3-point to extend the lead to 10 points for Providence.
“I thought Jared’s threesome maybe the hit of the game,” Cooley said. “I thought his three were it. Because they were coming; they were coming; they were coming and his three is a stabilizing basket that a veteran team will need to be competitive night and night in an environment like this. -this.
UConn hadn’t played a Big East game in front of fans since the conference split in 2013, leaving the Huskies in the American. It was the first sold-out for UConn at the XL Center since a 64-61 win over Memphis on February 16, 2020.
Providence: Georgetown host Wednesday
UConn: At Marquette Tuesday evening