There’s punching your ticket to the Sweet 16, then you have the thorough undressing the Providence Friars gave the University of Richmond Spiders in the round of 32.
With Noah Horchler making plays all over the court in Larry Bird-esque fashion and PC’s defense knocking the Spiders down the water spout in TKO fashion, the Friars are heading to a place they haven’t visited since Austin Croshere was making basketball art with streetball legend God Shammgod and Jamel Thomas. We’re talking as far back as 1997 to find the last time Providence proved successful in making it out of the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament.
The 25-year drought is officially over after the Friars whipped the Spiders, 79-51, inside of Buffalo’s KeyBank Center. The March Madness mission rolls on next Friday in Chicago with one of college basketball’s true blueblood programs – Kansas the top seed in this year’s Midwest Region – serving as the next opponent.
“We’re going to enjoy this moment and know we have a really tough game ahead of us, but today we’re here,” said PC head coach Ed Cooley. “This is the stuff you dream about. This is what March Madness is all about.”
How do you silence the “lucky” narrative that has been part and parcel when mentioning the Friars this season? How about dominating both ends of the court in leave-no-stone unturned fashion.
PC shot 12-of-22 from three-point territory with five different players hitting at least one shot from beyond the arc. Dubbed “Torchler” by a media member during the postgame press conference, Horchler torched the net and the Spiders to the tune of 16 points and 14 rebounds – his ninth double-double of the season.
Defensively, the Friars ran the Spiders off the three-point line – Richmond missed 21 of 22 shots from three – with Justin Minaya once again locking up the team’s top offensive threat. A 16-point-per-game scorer on the season, Richmond’s Tyler Burton managed just five points on 1-of-8 shooting as the junior had a hard time breaking free from Minaya.