A Tale of Two Halves: Second Half Meltdown Leads to Friars Getting Swept by Red Storm

The Friars were looking to build upon a strong effort against Xavier to wrap up the last week of the regular season. In the first half the Friars seemed poised to do so, taking an 11-point lead into the break. In a season full of bad second halves, the Friars saved their best (worst) for this one. St John’s would outscore PC 51-26 in the second stanza to win 81-67. Let’s look at what went wrong.

Embarrassing Second Half

We could talk about PC carrying over a great performance against Xavier in the first, with a lot of pop on both ends of the court. However, the Friars second half was so poor that it makes all of that a moot point. In the moment, the Crier was infuriated with the fact we only posted 24 points in the second frame against a SJ team that isn’t very good in half court defense. However, what I really should be concerned with is the defense that continues to let the team down.

I know the Johnnies are a run-and-gun team but to allow 51 points in a half when you only gave up 5 threes the entire game is inexcusable. Ed Cooley didn’t mince words in his post game presser either.

At the end of the day the defense is what has let this team down consistently throughout the year.

Playing at SJ’s Tempo

There were two instances in this one where the Friars fell into St. John’s trap and tried to play at their tempo. In the first half the Friars really dictated the pace, picking their spots of when to attack in transition. The Friars had a 24-14 lead when the Johnnies started to speed up the Friars and cut the deficit to 26-24 with 6 minutes to play. The Friars settled down and responded with a 11-2 run to close out the half. In the second the Friars traded baskets for a few minutes before the Johnnies sped them up again. The Johnnies used a 19-8 run to even up the score at 51. From there PC could never recover and SJ walked out of Carneseca rather comfortably. PC got away with playing to SJ’s pace once but didn’t get away with it again.

Curious Line-Up Choices – Georgetown Flashback

It seems this version of the Friars (and the coaching staff) do not know how to manage a lead.

If you recall in the Georgetown recap (https://theprovidencecrier.com/2021/02/01/providence-falls-to-georgetown-ncaa-chances-are-in-peril/#more-3137), we admonished the staff for subbing almost all of the starters out with a 15 point lead, only to see Georgetown claw back into the game and ultimately win because they were playing against mostly bench players during said run.

While not as egregious as the Hoya game, this game had a similar pattern where the core players build up a double digit lead and then Providence seemingly ignore said players doing this by putting them on the bench. There was a stretch in the second half where Gantt and Croswell were on the floor together. These two, at this stage in their career, are not offensive threats. Why have them on the court together instead of Horchler and Watson? It is like playing 3 vs. 5 offensively.

With them on the floor for an extended amount of time, St. John’s cut the lead from double digits to attaining a two point lead before Watson and Horchler returned.

No lead is safe in the Big East, and Providence can’t turn to foreign line-ups when they have a chance to bury a team for good. It is incredibly frustrating to watch.

Duke Careless with Basketball

No Posh, same issues. The league’s leader in steals did not suit up, but Duke still managed to turn the ball over 5 times. You can’t have your veteran guard, regardless if you classify him as a combo guard or two guard, turn the ball over that frequently. It has been an issue all year.

PC wraps up the regular season Saturday at 2:30 on Fox, as they host Villanova. The Wildcats will most likely out with star guard Colin Gillespie, who suffered a “serious” knee injury against Seton Hall.

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