PROVIDENCE — How’s that for tuning up for your in-state rival?

In a game that wasn’t for the faint of heart, the Providence College Friars scratched and clawed their way to a 72-68 win at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center over a Texas Tech team that figures to make plenty of noise in the Big 12 this season.

Al Durham poured in a game-high 23 points while A.J. Reeves came through with several timely makes on his way to netting 14 points.

Ed Croswell asserted himself early and wound up earning plenty of playing time on his way to producing an impressive stat line that included 11 points, six rebounds and two blocks.

For the Red Raiders, Terrence Shannon led the way with 17 points while Kevin Obanor added 12 points. Kevin McCullar netted 10 points as both teams shot 37% from the field and 30% from three.

Before a late-night and hyped-up Wednesday night crowd of 10,020, the Friars (7-1) turned away a team that ranked 11th in the latest KemPom metric rankings. They’ll now turn their attention to hosting URI on Saturday.

“This was a game where you couldn’t be in Romper Room today. You had to grow up quick,” PC coach Ed Cooley said. “I like the fact that we’ve been battle-tested … playing Virginia, Northwestern, Wisconsin.”

The quality of play shifted dramatically during the first half. Texas Tech came out swinging and succeeded in taking the wind out of Providence’s man-to-man defense. Conversely, PC’s best offense was throwing it up there and watching Croswell get after it on the glass. The junior scored on a pair of putbacks before standing at the top of the key and watching the seas part.

His drive to the rim was punctuated by an up-and-under move that was followed by a steal near midcourt by Justin Minaya, who went in for an uncontested dunk that cut the deficit to two (15-13).

“I just wanted to come out with a lot of energy and go after the ball. I just wanted it more,” Croswell said.

Many minutes would elapse before PC would get that close again. For the longest time, the same roadblocks that plagued the Friars against Virginia were on full display with the home crowd watching. Texas Tech dug in and forced PC into one tough look after another that led to an offensive dry spell that lasted five minutes

With 7:54 left in the half, the Red Raiders were cruising while the Friars were sinking fast. One team was shooting 5-of-22 (missing all seven 3-point tries) while the other was 9-of-16. Such a discrepancy told the story why Texas Tech was up two touchdowns and two extra points (27-13).

Instead of falling even further behind, PC perked up as the whistles started to take their toll on Texas Tech. Save for Croswell cleaning up and a corner 3 by Justin Minaya, the 11-1 run enjoyed by the Friars was built on getting to the line and connecting. At one point, PC scored six straight points at the line to cut the deficit to four (28-24).

Once again, Reeves demonstrated that he could overcome a tough start. He missed seven of his first eight shots when he teed up a 3 in front of the first row of paying customers. Fouled on the play, Reeves completed the four-point play that served as the final key salvo of an opening half that featured wild swings on both sides.

Just like that, Texas Tech’s once comfy lead was trimmed to two at the break (30-28).

Momentum stayed on PC’s side during the opening minutes of the second half with a slam by Horchler resulting in a 40-33 lead for the Friars. The driving lanes that were largely clogged during the first half were more open for Durham and others to exploit.

“We stopped being hesitant about the decisions we were making and put our heads down,” Durham said.

It remained a two-possession game in Providence’s favor with less than 10 remaining, but Texas Tech made a push that helped the Red Raiders grab a 53-51 lead with 7:40 remaining.

Tied at 58-58, Reeves rose up and hit a corner 3 that snapped the deadlock with 4:39 left. The lead proved short-lived with Shannon fouled while shooting a 3 on the ensuing possession. He connected on all three free throws as it was back to even steven.

The back-and-forth tussle continued with Texas Tech getting a hoop from Obanor that evened things at 65 with 2:10 left. With one hard dribble to his left, Durham pulled up for a 15-footer that snapped the tie with 1:48 remaining. The Friars would not trail the rest of the way.

That’s not to say there weren’t a few anxious moments. Texas Tech got to within one (69-68) after Shannon swished a 3 with 59 seconds left. Reeves came down and missed a 3, but things were looking good for the Friars after Shannon came down and misfired badly after launching a deep 3 from the top of the key.

The Friar lead grew to two after Reeves went 1-for-2 at the line but the buck stopped for the Red Raiders when Mylik Wilson was called for an offensive foul after being too aggressive with 5.3 seconds left. Inserted into the starting lineup for the injured Jared Bynum, Alyn Breed capped off the scoring with a 2 for 2 showing at the line.

For the first time this season, the Friars played zone defense for a long stretch. It was a new wrinkle that was mentioned to Cooley a few days before welcoming the Red Raiders.

“We haven’t really played a lot of it in practice. It’s a credit to the staff. They said it would be a good adjustment. Why not go to it?” said Cooley. “When you have older players who can adjust on the fly, that’s what they can do.”

Utilizing a defense where one player roamed free near the rim, Texas Tech held PC big man Nate Watson to a season-low five points. The Friars made 28 free throws compared to 17 freebies for the Red Raiders.

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