Go­phers stymie Fri­ars

No. 14 Min­nesota con­trols paint in win at Dunk

Woonsocket Call - - Sports - By BREN­DAN McGAIR bm­c­gair@paw­tuck­et­times.com

PROVDENCE — Ed Coo­ley wasn’t kid­ding when he said Min­nesota might be the best team his Prov­i­dence Fri­ars see this sea­son.

Once the 14th-ranked Go­phers got cook­ing in the sec­ond half, there wasn’t much that any­one in a Friar uni­form could do to slow down what proved to be a lethal shot-mak­ing force.

Min­nesota shot a whop­ping 60.7 per­cent over the fi­nal 20 min­utes and 50.8 per­cent for the game to pull away for an 86-74 win be­fore 10,214 at the Dunkin’ Donuts Cen­ter.

PC cer­tainly cre­ated some anx­ious mo­ments for head coach Richard Pitino’s crew, but the Go­phers con­trolled the fi­nal 12 min­utes en route to grab­bing con­fer­ence brag­ging rights. The game was played as part of the Gavitt Games that pits Big East schools against those from the Big Ten.

Min­nesota for­ward Jor­dan Mur­phy was the epit­ome of a wreck­ing ball, scor­ing a game­high 23 points on 10-of-15 shoot­ing while pulling down 14 re­bounds. As Mur­phy went, so did the Go­phers. Af­ter scor­ing six points on 2-of-5 shoot­ing in the first half, the ju­nior roared for 17 sec­ond-half points as Min­nesota went from down three at the break to outscor­ing PC by 15 in the sec­ond half.

“I’ll have night­mares about (Mur­phy) for a cou­ple of weeks. He played really well,” said Ed Coo­ley af­ter drop­ping just his sec­ond-ever non-con­fer­ence game in his Friar coach­ing ten­ure. “He was a man amongst boys. He was a game-changer and the best player in the build­ing.”

“He was just un­stop­pable,” said Pitino, a Friar alum, about Mur­phy.

Min­nesota was also aided by Nate Ma­son (17 points) and Amir Cof­fey (15 points). Cof­fey buried all three of his 3point tries in the sec­ond half af­ter go­ing 0-for-3 from be­yond the arc in the open­ing half. The Go­phers had just six as­sists on 30 made bas­kets, a trend that greatly dis­turbed Coo­ley.

“That’s when you look your­self in the eye and re­al­ize that who­ever had the ball went right by you. That might the stat of the cen­tury in a bas­ket­ball game,” said Coo­ley. “There wasn’t any in­di­vid­ual de­fense or team de­fense. That’s on me and I’ll make that cor­rec­tion.”

The Fri­ars re­ceived 12 points apiece from se­nior Ky­ron Cartwright and fresh­man Nate Wat­son. Kalif Young got on a roll early in the sec­ond half as the sopho­more fin­ished with 11 points. Isa­iah Jack­son was per­fect from the field (2-of-2, both threes) and from the foul line (4-of-4) for 10 points.

“I think they’ve got to re­bound a lit­tle bit bet­ter,” said Coo­ley when asked about the pro­duc­tion he re­ceived from Young and Wat­son, who com­bined for five boards. “But that num­ber of points from the cen­ter po­si­tion is pretty good.”

Cartwright fin­ished with nine as­sists, though seven came on PC’s first 14 bas­kets. The other two se­niors on the ros­ter, Jalen Lind­sey and Rod­ney Bul­lock, com­bined for 15 points. Lind­sey com­peted in his first con­test af­ter miss­ing the three-game pre­sea­son and last Fri­day’s sea­son opener against Hous­ton Bap­tist with an an­kle in­jury.

“I thought Jalen played pretty well con­sid­er­ing he hadn’t played for a bit. He gave us good en­ergy,” said Coo­ley. “If those three se­niors don’t play well, we’re go­ing to have a tough time win­ning games.”

The first half was a backand-forth af­fair that saw Min­nesota land the first punch and jump out to a 12-2 lead. Prov­i­dence was able to give its crowd plenty to cheer about Coo­ley turned to his bench and in­serted Lind­sey and Wat­son. Just be­fore the half, Lind­sey and Jack­son drilled back-toback threes to push PC’s lead to six (39-33).

The Fri­ars’ lead stood at five (51-46) in the sec­ond half be­fore the Go­phers hit an­other gear that en­abled them to pull away. Alayup by Cof­fey and a dunk by Mur­phy kick-started a game-turn­ing se­quence as Min­nesota took its big­gest lead (15 points) with 2:40 re­main­ing.

“We showed great poise in a tough en­vi­ron­ment,” said Pitino. “That’s what good teams do.”

For the Fri­ars, they’ll take a few days to re­group be­fore head­ing down to Madi­son Square Gar­den for the next phase of the 2K Clas­sic.

“We’ll move on. It’s not the end of the world. It (stinks) when you lose, but we’ll look for­ward to play­ing a tough Wash­ing­ton team on Thurs­day night and try to bounce back,” said Coo­ley. “I like these tough games early in the sea­son. You find out a lot about your team.” RIM RATTLERS: There was a huge NBA scout­ing con­tin­gent on hand for the first reg­u­lar-sea­son game at The Dunk. The list of rep­re­sen­ta­tives in­cluded Bos­ton, Detroit, New York, Ok­la­homa City, Wash­ing­ton, Brook­lyn, Mem­phis, and both Los An­ge­les out­fits. … Sit­ting court­side was for­mer Friar great Otis Thorpe, whose No. 33 hangs proudly in The Dunk rafters. … A mo­ment of si­lence was held for John Zan­nini and Drew Brown be­fore the game. Zan­nini was the Fri­ars’ long­time ra­dio statis­ti­cian who passed away from can­cer this past June. Aformer PC hockey player, Brown’s life was also cut short due to can­cer. The 25-year-old died this past Sat­ur­day. … A video trib­ute for Zan­nini that was nar­rated by long­time PC ra­dio broad­caster John Rooke took place at the first me­dia time­out. Zan­nini’s wife Lisa and his chil­dren Matthew and Alexan­dra were in­tro­duced to the crowd. … Pitino on the mixed re­ac­tion he re­ceived from the crowd dur­ing pregame in­tro­duc­tions: “What the heck is that? I’m a grad­u­ate.”

Photo by Louri­ann Mardo-Zayat / lmzart­works.com

Prov­i­dence Col­lege fresh­man for­ward Nate Wat­son (0) was the Fri­ars’ most ef­fi­cient player Mon­day night with 12 points on 4-for-6 shoot­ing in an 86-74 de­feat to No. 14 Min­nesota at the Dunkin’ Donuts Cen­ter.

Photo by Louri­ann Mardo-Zayat / lmzart­works.com

A pair of Prov­i­dence Col­lege guards bat­tle for a loose ball dur­ing Mon­day’s 86-74 de­feat to No. 14 Min­nesota at the Dunkin Donuts Cen­ter. The Fri­ars sit at 1-1 headed into Thurs­day’s 2K Clas­sic game with Wash­ing­ton at Madi­son Square Gar­den Thurs­day night at 9:30.

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