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Friars Get Huge Character Win Over the Hoyas 73-69

Watching Game of Thrones. Playing Mortal Kombat with my girlfriend. Experiencing Providence basketball in conference play. These are the things that I sit down for genuinely not knowing the outcome, but I know it’s going to take years off my life.

Point in case: there were points in tonight’s Providence game against Georgetown where I sat holding my breath and wondering “is this really how it’s going to end?”

It went both ways. Early in the game it looked like the Friars were going to get eaten alive by Georgetown. Then, the Hoyas not only came back to earth, but Providence took off a bit. The back and forth blows from these two Big East Originals had me anxious at best, and at worst it had my neighbors wondering if someone was getting murdered in my apartment from the amount of screaming and yelling.

They call wins like this a character win, and I believe that is 100% true.

There were points where the Friars genuinely didn’t look like they were going to escape their own home court from the Hoyas. They missed the front end of one-and-ones toward the end of the game. They missed easy layups. They committed bad fouls. They committed inopportune turnovers. Teams can, do, and should lose over errors like this.

But in these errors there was a lot to be said about how the Friars responded. They played tougher and harder because of it. They didn’t let up on defense, or let the Hoya’s Jessie Govan have a field day that turned into a win (like Markus Howard did to the Friars earlier this season). When the Friars went to the line, they took the best shot they could. When they had an opportunity on offense, they took it. If I didn’t know any better I’d say this team, which has faced some scrutiny this season, is looking like an Ed Cooley team at the right (and usual) time.

Character wins are what happens when a team looks adversity in the eye and decides they’re going to overcome it and grow stronger from it. Some teams would have started to crash and slow down when they went down 10 in the first half. Providence didn’t, and it showed.

Another good example of how this is a character win: hitting free throws. This was not Providence’s best day from the free throw line, especially towards the end – missing the front end of one-and-ones will do that. Still, when it came down to hitting the game-tying free throws, Alpha Diallo stepped up. When it came time to hit the go-ahead ones, Kyron Cartwright got it done. And when the Friars needed to seal it up with less than a second left, Jalen Lindsey did what he had to do.

The Friars are not a perfect team. They’re not a Big East elite team. But they grit out the wins they’re supposed to grit out, and they learn from their losses. This is a team that, come March, could be a one and done, or they could make serious noise. I don’t know if they have the talent to make it far in March, but I know they have the character to pull it off.