PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard said the week away from the Big East grind allowed his team to get back to basics.
“We had three days of practice like it was the preseason,” he said. “We watched a little film and I could tell we were ready.”
The Pirates put on an impressive performance Saturday, beating No. 12 Providence 81-72.
Khadeen Carrington went 12 for 12 at the free throw line and scored 22 points. The sophomore did all that in a reserve role for the Pirates, who shot 48 percent from the floor and held the Friars to 30 percent.
Isaiah Whitehead and former UMass contributor Derrick Gordon both had 15 points while Desi Rodriguez added 10 for the Pirates (13-4, 3-2).
Seton Hall dominated the action down low. The Pirates outscored the Friars in the paint 38-26 and won the rebounding battle by a healthy amount (50-36). Willard noted that by controlling the glass, the Pirates were able to get out on the break and create easier scoring chances for guards Carrington, Whitehead and Gordon.
“(PC head coach Ed Cooley) usually has one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the country, so I was worried,” Willard said. “But I thought if we could rebound, we could run. At times I thought we got a lot of easy buckets and that took some pressure off of us in the half-court.”
Ben Bentil paced the Friars (15-3, 3-2) with 21 points. The sophomore got the bulk of his points at the free throw line as he went 4 of 15 from the field. Kris Dunn had 16 points but fouled out with 3:02 left.
“When Kris is in foul trouble, our identity changes as a program. He needs to be on the foul and we need to be more disciplined,” Cooley said. “At the same time, he was on the floor during the early part of the game when we struggled.”
Rodney Bullock scored 11 points for Providence while Kyron Cartwright added 10.
Providence opened a 13-8 lead as Bullock scored consecutive baskets with Cartwright assisting on both. It was all Seton Hall the rest of the half as the Pirates enjoyed a 38-28 halftime lead.
PC missed five straight shots and 10 of 12 to close the opening half.
“We’ve been down double digits in each of our last three games,” noted Cooley. “To try and fight back, it hasn’t been a very good thing to watch.”
Seton Hall’s largest lead was 13 points with 17:47 left. The Pirates survived a couple of pushes from the Friars, who got within 72-66 after Bentil hit a 3-pointer with 2:56 left. The Pirates, who struggled when the Friars switched to a zone defense, regrouped as Gordon hit two free throws to bump the lead up to 11 points with 46 seconds left.
“We were looking to still attack,” Willard said.
SHOW OF SUPPORT
The attendance was 11,148. The game tipped off at the same exact time as the Patriots’ playoff game nearby.
“I appreciate our fans for coming out and supporting us,” Cooley said. “It’s just disappointing when you lose at home.”
Cooley reportedly suffered from a bout of vertigo earlier in the week. He nearly didn’t coach the Friars against Creighton on Tuesday night.
“Physically I’m doing better,” he said. “It’s really hard because the building is still spinning. But after a loss like that, my whole world is spinning.”
Seton Hall: The Pirates came in having dropped six of their previous seven games to the Friars. … Seton Hall hit 83 percent of its free throws (20 of 24). The Pirates came into the game shooting 64 percent from the line this season.
Providence: PC has trailed at halftime in four of its five Big East games. … Two of the Friars’ three losses have come at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center. . Freshman reserve Quadree Smith sat out his fifth straight game (broken hand).
Seton Hall hosts No. 6 Villanova on Wednesday.
Providence hosts No. 23 Butler on Tuesday.