PC throws away 20-point lead in loss to UMass

Pawtucket Times - - SPORTS - By BREN­DAN McGAIR bm­c­[email protected]­tuck­et­times.com

PROV­I­DENCE — In­stead of head­ing into the exam break on a pos­i­tive note, the Prov­i­dence Fri­ars will now have eight days to try and re­move a burn­ing mem­ory from their col­lec­tive psy­che.

What had the mak­ings of a walk in the park turned sharply on a dime. A drive-and- score by noted Friar slayer Luwane Pip­kins put the Univer­sity of Mas­sachusetts up one with 10 sec­onds left and Al­pha Diallo missed a low-per­cent­age shot from close range on the other end as time ex­pired. PC head coach Ed Coo­ley pleaded for a call that never came and as a re­sult, the Fri­ars ex­ited the Dunkin’ Donuts Cen­ter with heavy hearts after fall­ing, 79-78.

As he sat at the podium, Coo­ley ad­mit- ted he should have used a time­out after the Min­ute­men took the lead in the dy­ing sec­onds. The play-call­ing was a bit cu­ri­ous as PC went to Nate Wat­son (14 points) on back-to-back pos­ses­sions with less than a minute left in­stead of Diallo, the team’s lead­ing scorer who ended up with 21 points.

“All those young guys on the floor and not be­ing in that sit­u­a­tion be­fore … I’ve been blessed in the past with a vet­eran point guard or vet­eran guys in the game. I don’t like call­ing time­outs in those sit­u­a­tions be­cause the de­fense isn’t set,” said Coo­ley. “In say­ing that, I need to do a bet­ter job with my team in that sit­u­a­tion. This loss is clearly on me.”

It was a tale of two halves for the Fri­ars, who led by 20 points at one point in the first half and 18 points at the break but watched the Min­ute­men outscore them 47-28 after half­time. The stretches of hits and misses didn’t sit well with Coo­ley, who didn’t mince words after PC suf­fered a rare non-con­fer­ence loss at home. UMass shot 60 per­cent in the sec­ond half and held the Fri­ars to 36 per­cent.

“That’s a game that UMass earned,” said Coo­ley after fall­ing to the Min­ute­men for the sec­ond straight year. “We stopped mak­ing shots and our guys got frus­trated. It’s heart­break­ing.”

Pip­kins once again shred­ded the Fri­ars, fol­low­ing up last year’s 30-point out­burst with 26 points. He had plenty of help with Cur­tis Cobb scor­ing 16 points while Carl Pierre swished four of his five three-point­ers after half­time on his way to net­ting 15 points.

After hang­ing a 50-spot on UMass dur­ing a first half that saw the bench pro­vide 22 points, the Fri­ars took their foot off the gas just long enough to find them­selves with a real fight on their hands. Pip­kins was get- ting to the rim and fin­ish­ing but he also had help from Pierre. A ca­reer 45-per­cent shooter from dis­tance, Pierre drilled three treys as part of a 14-2 run that had PC on the run and only up three (6562) with 7:52 re­main­ing.

“Once they got mo­men­tum, they got a lot of it,” said Coo­ley. “You can’t lose at home. I’m ab­so­lutely (ticked) be­cause of that. Our fans de­served a bet­ter coach to­day.”

PC was able to build some sep­a­ra­tion after A.J. Reeves (eight points) com­pleted a three-point play and Wat­son swished two free throws that made it 76-70 with 3:57 to go, but two straight Friar turnovers helped the Min­ute­men grab a 77-76 lead. UMass came into Fri­day’s ac­tion look­ing to re­bound after fall­ing to Holy Cross at home on Tues­day night.

Diallo scored in­side to put PC up 78-77, but PC couldn’t close things out on a night that fea­tured a crowd of 10,427 and a 16-of-25 show­ing from the foul line. The Fri­ars won’t re­turn to the court un­til a week from this Sun­day.

“We’ll learn from it and I’ll make sure I make some cor­rec­tions,” said Coo­ley.

***

RIM RAT­TLERS: The next time the Fri­ars are in ac­tion at The Dunk, the 2018 Red Sox World Se­ries tro­phy will be present. Those with tick­ets for the Sun­day, Dec. 16 game against Cen­tral Con­necti­cut will have the chance to take a pic­ture with the tro­phy from 12:30 p.m. un­til the 2 o’clock tipoff.

Fol­low Bren­dan McGair on Twit­ter @BWMcGair03

Photo by Louri­ann Mardo-Zayat / lmzart­works.com

Al­pha Diallo (11) and Prov­i­dence saw their NCAA Tour­na­ment re­sume take a big hit with Fri­day’s de­feat to UMass.

Photo by Louri­ann Mardo-Zayat / lmzart­works.com

Prov­i­dence Col­lege coach Ed Coo­ley took the blame for the young Fri­ars los­ing a 20-point lead in a loss to UMass Fri­day night.

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