Providence Friars

VIDEO: No. 23 Providence beats Rhode Island on Bentil tip-in

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Saturday night in-state rivals No. 23 Providence and Rhode Island met in Kingston, and as many expected the game did not disappoint. The Friars got off to a quick start only to see the Rams respond with a 20-4 run, and from that point onward the two Ocean State teams traded punches throughout in a game that was decided as time expired by Providence forward Ben Bentil.

Following a Jared Terrell jumper with 6.2 seconds remaining Providence point guard raced up the court, releasing a shot attempt with enough time to allow Bentil to tip in the miss just before time expired. The game-winner capped a 23-point, eight-rebound night for Bentil, who to this point in the season has not only been one of the Big East’s most improved players but one of the most improved players in the country as a whole.

Terrell led four Rams in double figures with 19 points.

Video credit: ESPN

As good as they’ve been, No. 3 Michigan State has yet to play their best

Bryn Forbes, Ryan Fazekas
Associated Press
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Sunday night’s Wooden Legacy title game matchup between No. 3 Michigan State and Providence was billed as a matchup of the nation’s two best players, and rightfully so. Michigan State senior Denzel Valentine (17 points, six rebounds, five assists), who already has two triple-doubles to his credit this season, and Providence redshirt junior Kris Dunn (21 points, five rebounds, seven assists) have more than lived up to the preseason expectations and more of the same was expected in Anaheim.

And while both had their moments, it was Michigan State’s supporting cast that made the difference in their 77-64 victory. The scary thing for future opponents on Michigan State’s schedule is that Tom Izzo’s team is nowhere near being a finished product.

With Valentine dealing with first-half foul trouble Bryn Forbes stepped up, scoring 13 of his 18 points to help the Spartans take a two-point lead into the half. As for the 11-0 run that Michigan State produced to take control of the game late, a host of players stepped forward in regards to scoring, rebounding and defending.

Freshmen Deyonta Davis and Matt McQuaid combined to score nine points over the final 5:32, with transfer guard Eron Harris adding six of his 12 points during that stretch. The Spartans outscored the Friars, who aren’t as deep, 22-7 during that stretch to close out the game, hunting for quality shots and hitting the offensive glass while making things difficult for Providence on the other end of the floor.

The end result was a final margin that does not indicate just how close the game was. While Providence seemed to run out of steam Michigan State received contributions from multiple players, which is undoubtedly a good sign for this group moving forward.

The Spartans will return the currently injured Gavin Schilling later this season, giving them another big man alongside Davis, Matt Costello and Colby Wollenman. He was a player they missed Sunday night, as he can defend opposing big men both in the post and on the perimeter. His absence was a main reason Michigan State didn’t have an answer for Providence’s Ben Bentil (20 points, seven rebounds) defensively.

The key for this group is going to end up being role definition, which is especially true in the case of Harris. A transfer from West Virginia, Harris came to East Lansing with the reputation of being a big time scorer. He’s struggled through the first two weeks of the season, but he got on a roll on Sunday night, finishing with 12 points, three boards and three assists. He showed he’s capable of doing a variety of things on the perimeter, and fitting into a “Swiss army knife” kind of role would make Michigan State that much more dangerous.

There’s no denying that Michigan State has been one of the nation’s best teams thus far.

But there’s also no denying that the Spartans have yet to hit their ceiling, which is definitely a positive moving forward.

Wednesday’s Snacks: Providence holds off Illinois, No. 1 UNC wins

Ed Cooley
Associated Press
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GAME OF THE NIGHT: Providence 60, Illinois 59

The Gavitt Tipoff Games matchup wasn’t a high-scoring affair, but there was plenty of action in a game that had 11 lead changes with neither team leading by more than seven points. Providence point guard Kris Dunn had a quiet night when compared to his season-opening performance against Harvard, finishing with ten points, eight rebounds and three assists. Illinois was able to use multiple defenses, including a 1-3-1 zone and devoting multiple players to the ball-handler when defending pick and rolls in man-to-man, to keep Dunn in check.

However Friars Ben Bentil (18 points, 12 rebounds, three assists), Rodney Bullock (13 points, six rebounds) and Kyron Cartwright (eight points, six assists) stepped forward, keeping Providence in position to win the game. Illinois had three chances to take the lead in the final seconds but all three missed the mark, including a Michael Finke follow dunk attempt of a Malcolm Hill missed layup. Jalen Coleman-Lands led Illinois offensively with 17 points, with Hill (15 points, 11 rebounds) and Finke (12 points, seven rebounds) also scoring in double figures.

SCORES YOU NEED TO KNOW

Richmond 91, Wake Forest 82: Chris Mooney’s Spiders won the turnover battle decisively, committing just six on the night with Wake Forest finishing with 20. Richmond converted those 20 turnovers into 27 points, and that combined with a balanced scoring effort led by T.J. Cline (19 points, seven rebounds) proved to be the difference. Freshman Bryant Crawford tallied 21 points, five rebounds and six assists for Wake Forest, but he also accounted for seven of the Demon Deacons’ 20 turnovers.

No. 1 North Carolina 78, Wofford 58: The top-ranked Tar Heels moved to 3-0 on the season with a 20-point win over the Terriers, taking control of the game in the second half after leading by just five at the intermission. Joel Berry II continued his solid play with 16 points, four assists and four steals, and Brice Johnson added 16 and 14 rebounds. Johnson and Kennedy Meeks combined to score 30 points (14-for-26 FG) and grab 22 rebounds against the smaller Terriers, who were led offensively by Jaylen Allen’s 15 points.

No. 21 Purdue 96, Incarnate Word 61: A.J. Hammons made his return to the court for Purdue, who didn’t skip a beat in their sound beating of UIW. Hammons played 17 minutes off the bench, racking up eight points, six rebounds and three blocked shots. Isaac Haas led five Purdue players in double figures with 17 points while also grabbing 12 rebounds and blocking four shots, and as a team the Boilermakers shot 59.6 percent from the field.

No. 10 Gonzaga 91, Northern Arizona 52: Mark Few’s Bulldogs rolled to a win in their season opener, with forwards Domantas Sabonis and Kyle Wiltjer leading the way. Sabonis scored 26 points, shooting 12-for-13 from the field, and grabbed seven rebounds with Wiltjer adding 23 points and seven rebounds. If there’s a concern to be taken out of this blowout victory it’s that as a team Gonzaga shot 6-for-23 from beyond the arc. Remove Bryan Alberts’ 3-for-4 night and the percentage is even lower. Given their front court options opponents will look to sag down on Gonzaga and force the guards to beat them, so knocking down shots will be a key for the perimeter rotation moving forward.

STARRED

Isaiah Miles, Saint Joseph’s: with DeAndre Bembry being the focus of opposing defenses other Hawks will need to step forward. That’s happened thus far this season, with Miles going for 24 points and 14 rebounds in an 89-67 win over Buffalo.

Kahlil Felder, Oakland: One of the best guards you seldom hear about nationally, Felder racked up 27 points, four rebounds and 12 assists in the Golden Grizzlies’ 91-81 win over Eastern Michigan.

Isaac Haas, Purdue: 17 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks in a blowout win over Incarnate Word.

Pascal Siakam, New Mexico State: Siakam accounted for 30 points, 11 rebounds and four assists in the Aggies’ 76-63 win over Tennessee Tech.

STRUGGLED

Darell Combs, IUPUI: Combs did dish out five assists, but he scored just five points on 1-for-11 shooting from the field in the Jaguars’ loss at NC State.

Mike Thorne Jr., Illinois: Thorne struggled with foul trouble Wednesday night and played just 13 minutes as a result, going scoreless before fouling out in the one-point loss at Providence.

NOTABLES

  • Leading by just four at the half, Cincinnati dialed up the pressure on both end of the floor in the second half as they blew out Bowling Green 83-50 on the road. Mick Cronin’s Bearcats outscored the Falcons 48-19 in the second half.
  • Aaron Bacote led five Monarchs in double figures as Old Dominion moved to 3-0 with a 79-48 win over Morgan State.
  • Cat Barber scored 19 points and Caleb Martin and Maverick Rowan posted matching lines of 15 points and seven rebounds as NC State beat IUPUI 79-56.
  • Evan Bradds scored 16 points while also accounting for nine rebounds and four assists in Belmont’s 90-85 win over Western Kentucky.
  • Keith Dambrot’s Akron Zips, who have won 20 games or more in each of the last ten seasons, moved to 3-0 with a win at Arkansas. Wednesday was a rough one for the Razorbacks, who missed out on elite in-state product Malik Monk earlier in the day. He’s signed with Kentucky.
  • Arizona State moved to 2-1 on the season with a 91-53 win over Kennesaw State, outscoring the Owls 56-29 in the second half. Obinna Oleka led four Sun Devils in double figures with 19 points.
  • New Mexico continued its solid start to the season with a 75-51 win over Loyola-Chicago. After Elijah Brown scored 31 Sunday night Tim Wiliams was the star Wednesday, posting a line of 22 points, seven rebounds and four assists.
  • Patrick McCaw scored 24 points and Derrick Jones added 19 as UNLV pulled away down the stretch to beat Southern Utah 84-64 in Las Vegas. Four Runnin’ Rebels managed to score in double figures on the night.