Friars look to build postseason push against DePaul

·2 min read

Providence has figured out a formula for winning basketball games, according to forward Noah Horchler.

"It's really just everyone coming together and working as a team," he said in the Providence Journal on Wednesday after a 70-59 home win over UConn. "Getting better chemistry. Getting more from each other. Getting better shots for each other. Playing defense -- staying connected on defense."

After doing those things to defeat one of the better teams in the Big East Conference, the Friars will now try to take those characteristics to Chicago on Saturday night for another conference matchup against struggling DePaul.

At 10-10 overall and 6-8 in the Big East, Providence probably needs to win out and win at least a game or two in the Big East tournament to sustain serious hopes for an NCAA Tournament at-large spot. The way it beat UConn at least gives it a road map.

In the second half, the Friars stood firm a team that prides itself on toughness. They started with an 18-8 run and repelled the Huskies' one good run that made it close late. Defense and rebounding carried the day, enabling Providence to get by while shooting 43.4 percent from the field.

Nate Watson and David Duke each scored 17 points for the Friars, matching their season averages. Duke also chipped in six rebounds and three steals, earning coach Ed Cooley's praise.

"That's the David we're accustomed to seeing," Cooley told the Journal, "and hopefully, we continue to see him play with that level of energy, excitement and leadership."

While Providence tries to make a late push to earn a postseason shot, the Blue Demons (3-8, 1-8) are merely seeking some semblance of success. Their 68-58 defeat at Butler Feb. 6 was their third straight loss and fourth in five games.

DePaul has struggled on and off the floor this season. It didn't get to start its season until Dec. 23 due to COVID-19 problems that have wiped out nine games. They simply haven't been able to find any sort of rhythm because their season keeps stopping and starting.

In fact, this week the Blue Demons were supposed to play on Tuesday against Villanova and Thursday against Xavier, but those games were postponed.

Javon Freeman-Liberty starred in the loss at Butler, pouring in a game-high 26 points to increase his team-leading scoring average to 14 points per game. Charlie Moore is second on the team in scoring at 13.7.

"You scheme how you want to play (and) how you want to defend, but at the end of the day guys have to be able to play offense and play it well," DePaul coach Dave Leitao said after DePaul's loss to Butler. "When only one guy does that, it hurts your chances."

--Field Level Media