NEW YORK, N.Y. – The Providence College men’s basketball team defeated top-seeded and No. 3/2 Xavier in overtime on Friday night, 75-72, in the BIG EAST Tournament Semifinal at Madison Square Garden.
Providence became just the second team in BIG EAST Tournament history to win back-to-back overtime games. Syracuse won a quarterfinal game and semifinal game in OT in 2009. The win also marked the first time ever the Friars defeated three top-5 teams in the same season.
The win advances Providence to the BIG EAST Tournament Championship for the first time since 2014 and third time overall. The Friars claimed the title in 1994 and 2014.
Senior Kyron Cartwright (Compton, Calif.) recorded 15 points and six assists, including 12 points and five assists after halftime. Sophomore Alpha Diallo (New York, N.Y.) and senior Rodney Bullock (Arlington, Va.) each scored 17 points, while freshman Nate Watson (Arlington, Va.) tallied 14 points off the bench.
The game went into overtime tied, 68-68, but a Trevon Bluiett basket pushed Xavier in front, 70-68 (4:18).
Watson hit one-of-two at the line to cut the Musketeers’ lead in half and off a Xavier miss, Diallo put the Friars in front with a turnaround in the lane to give the Friars a 71-70 lead with a minute left.
Cartwright then increased the Friars’ lead with a sweet pull up jumper that put Providence up 73-70 with 49.0 to play.
Xavier had a chance to take the lead down one 73-72, but Cartwright stepped in for the charge on J.P. Macura with 7.7 left to give the Friars the ball.
Diallo received the inbounds pass and was fouled sending him to the free-throw line. At the line, Diallo hit one-of-two and the Musketeers did not get a shot off the other way sealing the Friars victory.
The Musketeers held a 43-29 lead to begin the second half and maintained a 14-point lead through the first three minutes, but a Diallo break-away dunk pulled the Friars within 47-35.
The 14-point halftime deficit is tied for third largest comeback in BIG EAST Tournament history.
Xavier’s lead stood at 13 with just under 14 minutes left, but freshman Makai Ashton-Langford (Worcester, Mass.) came off the bench and provided a spark scoring consecutive buckets, before Diallo finished through contact to trim the Musketeers lead to 52-43.
Cartwright then heated up from the field, hitting a runner in the lane before drilling a base line fall away to pull the Friars within seven, 56-49 with 9:45 left.
Nate Watson (Arlington, Va.) provided the biggest lift, entering the game and dominating the paint on the offensive end. Watson scored straight at the rim to trim Xavier’s lead to 59-57 with 6:30 to play.
The deficit remained two, 64-62, with less than four minutes to play but Bullock completed the come back driving to the lane and hitting a floater to tie the score at 64 with 3:33 left.
Providence had a pair of chances to take the lead but failed to convert and two Bluiett free throws gave Xavier a 66-64 edge.
Xavier had a chance to increase its lead on its next possession, but Cartwright drew an offensive foul.
At the other end, Bullock drew contact and hit both to tie the score and 66 but Sean O’Mara answered with a turnaround in the lane to put Xavier back in front, 68-66 with 35.4 to play.
Cartwright answered by going to the basket with seven seconds left tying the score at 68 and sending it to overtime.
Providence struggled from the field in the early, shooting just 4-of-13 from the field over the first 8:12 of play allowing Xavier to take an 18-10 lead.
The Musketeers extended their lead over the next four minutes going on a 14-2 run capped off by a to take a 28-12 lead into the under eight media timeout.
Out of the timeout, Diallo tried to be the offensive catalyst, spinning and finishing on the low block for two before Lindsey hit a transition trey to pill the Friars within 11.
Cartwright looked to keep the Friars push alive, driving strong to the basket and finishing through contact to trim Xavier’s lead to 10 with just over five minutes left in the half..
Two Diallo free throws got the Friars within single digits, but Paul Scruggs hit three free throws and Kreme Kanter drilled a 12-footer to give Xavier a 43-29 advantage at the break.
Next up the Friars will take on Villanova for the BIG EAST Tournament Championship tomorrow, March 9th with tipoff from Madison Square Garden scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on FOX.
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