Jay Wright

Catholic 7 schools with a forgettable night on Friday

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Tucker Halpern went off the high screen, fading to the corner. He took a high pass, caught, pump faked Josh Fortune into the air, took a dribble and drained his eighth 3-pointer off the night to give Brown a 69-68 lead with seven seconds remaining. Providence got the ball inside the 3-point line, but Vincent Council fumbled the dribble and missed a three, followed by a miss tip-in, as the Bears took down city rival at home Friday night.

Vincent Council, who returned to the PC lineup for the first time since Nov. 10 due to a hamstring injury, went to the line up 67-66 and sank the first free throw, but missed the second, setting up Halpern’s late-game heroics.

Providence was without leading scorer, Bryce Cotton, but the loss to Brown (4-6) was the headlining act for a forgettable night for three members of the Catholic 7.

Besides the PC loss, Villanova and Seton Hall both struggled with the likes of NJIT and Stony Brook.

Villanova was able to pull away late in the second half to beat NJIT 70-60, but it wasn’t easy. NJIT, who started Division I play in 2006, had the game tied a 52 with just over 10 minutes to play. The Highlanders have played three Catholic 7 schools this season before the Villanova game – Providence, Seton Hall, and St. John’s – and lost all three games by a total of 18 points.

Stony Brook almost sneaked out an upset against Seton Hall, but the Pirates held off the Seawolves 60-59. Stony Brook lead 55-51 with 6:21 to play until Seton Hall put together a 7-0 run to get the lead for good. Stony Brook had a chance to win at the buzzer, but a 3-point attempt from Anthony Jackson was off the mark.

Catholic 7 is back in action when Marquette hosts North Carolina Central and DePaul takes on Loyola (IL) on Saturday.

Terrence is also the lead writer at NEHoopNews.com and can be followed on Twitter: @terrence_payne

Marcus Paige, Joel Berry lead No. 9 North Carolina past No. 2 Maryland

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — He’s back.

For the first time this season — and for the first time in more than a year that he hasn’t been hampered with some kind of foot or ankle injury — Marcus Paige donned a North Carolina jersey, and it didn’t take him long to find the form that made him the NBCSports.com Preseason National Player of the Year.

On the first Tar Heel possession, Paige came off of a ball-screen, drove the lane and found Kennedy Meeks at the rim for a layup. Not 30 seconds later, he came off of a down screen and buried a three. Paige would finish with 20 points and five assists as No. 9 North Carolina put together a fairly resounding win over No. 2 Maryland in the Dean Dome on Tuesday night, winning 89-81.

Paige finished 7-for-12 from the floor and 4-for-5 from beyond the arc, hitting a number of threes in the second half that helped hold off a Maryland push sparked by their own all-american point guard, Melo Trimble.

Trimble was erratic early on, committing three turnovers in the first six minutes and eight on the night, but it was his play at the end of the first half and early second half that kept North Carolina from blowing their doors. At one point, Maryland was down 32-19 and in danger of getting run out of Tobacco Road.

In total, Trimble finished with 23 points and 12 assists, hitting four big threes during that stretch. He either scored or assisted on 11 of Maryland’s first 12 second half field goals.

As good as Paige was, the bigger story may actually be Joel Berry II. He took two dumb threes in the first half — which played a role in Maryland being able to make this a game — and he missed a few free throws late, but overall he was terrific. He finished with 14 points and five assists, making 3-of-5 threes and turning the ball over just twice. He’s clearly beat Nate Britt out at the point guard spot, and his ability to take pressure off of Paige as a secondary ball-handler and playmaker is huge.

(More to come from Chapel Hill…)

VIDEO: Melo Trimble drops Nate Britt with a crossover

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North Carolina is hosting No. 2 Maryland in a heated contest in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Terps sophomore guard Melo Trimble is playing very well and part of his performance was dropping North Carolina’s Nate Britt with a crossover in the second half.

(H/T: The Cauldron)