Friars Don’t Quit, Tough It out to Win in Chicago

When the Friars come to Chicago, I attend. I don’t get many opportunities to see the Friars live anymore, so I take advantage of it when I can. These were my thoughts, during the second half of the game, from the 16 minute mark onward.

For the past few years, the Friars have struggled playing in Chicago.

There’s no logical reason for it. DePaul is not good at basketball. Objectively, that’s true. And yet, the Friars seem to have been unable to win against the Blue Demons while playing them on the road.

This year had the Friars struggling against the Blue Demons too. They closed the first half with an over eight and a half minute scoring drought, and didn’t score until almost four minutes into the second half. The Friars made bad plays, bad turnovers, and took bad shots. They were down by over 10 to DePaul at one point during the second half.

But basketball is a game of runs, and DePaul simply got theirs early.

With DePaul up 46-42 they turned the ball over on a travel, and the Friar fans erupted in a ‘let’s go Friars!’ chant that DePaul fans booed but couldn’t stop. The Friars were shifting momentum with 14 minutes to go in the second half.

It was exactly what the Friars needed.

With 12:44 left Jalen Lindsey hit the go-ahead three that put Providence up 47-46.

Despite what you may think, this is not analysis of a game. This is a record of how Providence overcame their Achilles Heel in Chicago.

The story is not one player took over, nor is it DePaul gave it their all. Maybe the argument could be that Providence fans propelled them to succeed in the second half, turning the Wintrust Arena into the Dunkin Donuts Center Midwest, even in spite of the DePaul fans shouting and booing the Friars and their fans. That, however, is not this story.

The story is the Friars showing just who they are at the right time.

It doesn’t matter who DePaul is, because for the past few years DePaul was the Friar-Slayer. They beat Providence multiple times on their home court, and with far less fans in attendance during that time.

But the story of this game is how the Friars continued to improve themselves and prove themselves.

For DePaul fans, this game would be the story of how they led the Friars and let it slip through their fingers in the second half. They had the Friars locked in for a third year in a row. All they had to do was close out.

Instead, they had an 0-22 run to Providence, who suddenly played with purpose in the second half.

DePaul would not go out quietly. No Big East team – not even a perennial conference cellar dweller – would do that. But Providence would answer their toughness with more toughness. They would respond to jumpers with defensive rebounds. They would make the most of their scoring in transition.

The Friars would not play a perfect game. This was not a Hollywood ending where the Friars found their groove, destroyed their opposition, and became the team they were meant to be. With less than 4 minutes to go DePaul would rally to make it a single digit game, forcing a full timeout with 2:40 left to go on a second chance basket that would make it 66-58. And then, with a minute and a half to go, DePaul would hit a three to put the game in a single position, 67-64.

With less than a minute left, the new Wintrust Arena was booming with defense. The Friars put up a shot and missed. The Blue Demons had a chance. They missed. The Friars capitalized with a transition dunk by Rodney Bullock. Blue Demons fans were booing as their team, the last-place pick year in and year out, would be forced to foul with 7.9 seconds left in the game.

The Friars, however, just kept showing who they were, even in spite of the challenges.

And who are the Friars? A team who changes trends, apparently. A team who can go to the capital of the Midwest and win a conference game when it’s needed. Something they had not been able to do in years’ past.

The Friars won, 71-64. They showed who they were. They showed their identity. They showed they were Providence. And Providence would not fall back, no matter how much the Blue Demons threw at them.

Fun stat from my WDOM companion: in the past three meetings between DePaul and Providence, the Blue Demons have scored exactly 64 points. Don’t take my word for it, blame him if it’s wrong!