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Hopkins, Croswell Lead Friars to Win in Big East Opener

Jared Bynum guarded by Al-Amir Dawes in the second half of Providence's game against Seton Hall.

NEWARK, N.J. - It was a back-and-forth battle between the Providence Friars (9-3, 1-0) and Seton Hall Pirates (7-5, 0-1) at the Prudential in a Saturday matinee.

It was a career day for both Seton Hall's Kadary Richmond and Providence's Bryce Hopkins. In the end, it was Hopkins and the Friars that got the last word and the victory in the Big East opener for both teams.

This one started out as a high-scoring affair. The Friars hit four of their first five shots from the field, led by Ed Croswell and Noah Locke with two makes each, to grab a 12-10 lead at the first stoppage.

Kadary Richmond and Tray Jackson got the Pirates to bounce right back. Seton Hall used a 7-0 run capped by a Jackson 3-pointer to retake the lead 17-15 with twelve minutes to play in the first half.

The teams traded baskets after that, with Bryce Hopkins putting Providence ahead 23-22 with a free throw with less than eight minutes remaining in the period.

Then, Seton Hall's defense kicked in. The Pirates went on a 10-0 run, holding the Friars scoreless for over five minutes. Kadary Richmond finished an and-1 and Jamir Harris knocked down a triple to push the lead to 32-23. Bryce Hopkins had Providence's first field goal in over seven minutes with a dunk late in the half, but Richmond's layup in the closing seconds extended Seton Hall's lead to 36-27 as the teams headed into the break.

Richmond led all players with 16 points and six rebounds in the first half. He was electric, notably beating Noah Locke with a spin move to draw a foul and dicing up Rafael Castro at the end of the period.

It wouldn't take long for Seton Hall's nine-point halftime advantage to slip away, however.

An 11-3 Providence run to open the second half brought the Friars within a single point. After a Richmond layup, Croswell scored four consecutive points and Devin Carter hit a 3-pointer to put the Friars ahead 45-41 just over five minutes into the period.

The Pirates retained their composure. Al-Amir Dawes drilled a critical 3-pointer to tie the game and then scored on the fast break to put Seton Hall back on top. Dre Davis's layup with 5:57 remaining extended their lead to 57-54.

With the Prudential Center crowd rocking, the Friars stood tall. First, Croswell's basket-and-one tied the game. Then, Hopkins hit a triple to give Providence the lead. Devin Carter turned a turnover into a slam, and it was an 8-0 run in under a minute to give Providence a 62-57 lead. The Pirates looked stunned.

Croswell added a free throw and then a dunk of his own to extend Providence's lead to seven with less than three minutes remaining. He would foul out with 21 points and nine rebounds, just shy of a double-double. It was his highest scoring performance in a Providence uniform.

Bryce Hopkins and Alyn Breed combined to go six-for-six from the free throw line in the final 2:09, holding Seton Hall at bay. Seton Hall made one last run, giving the Friars a hard time on the press, but Al-Amir Dawes missed a 3-point attempt to tie the game with six seconds left. The Friars held on for their first Big East win of the season, taking down Seton Hall 71-67. It was the team's first victory outside the state of Rhode Island.

Bryce Hopkins set a new career-high in the victory, scoring 24 points and notching ten rebounds for his fourth double-double of the season. He had 16 of those points and all of his rebounds in the second half, helping to lead the comeback effort.

"We just came out with a chip on our shoulder, tried to match their physicality and play hard," said Hopkins after the game.

"He's got a lot of Ryan Gomes in him, he's got a lot of Jared Dudley in him," said Providence coach Ed Cooley of Hopkins.

Ed Croswell also had 16 points in the second frame, making six of his seven attempts from the field. He added three blocks in the half as well. "When I got those blocks, I just felt like yes, we can play even harder, we can take this to another level," said Croswell after the win.

Noah Locke finished in double-figures for Providence, scoring ten points with a pair of threes and a team-high four assists.

"I thought we grew up," said Providence coach Ed Cooley of his team's second half performance. "I thought we showed a lot of togetherness."

The Friars scored 34 points in the paint, 22 of which came in the second half. That was Ed Cooley's goal for his team. "We were trying to impose our will in front of the rim." He wanted to see at least 30 points down low, and his team delivered.

Kadary Richmond had a career-performance in the loss for Seton Hall. He scored 28 points, setting a new career-high, and also recorded a team-high nine rebounds and five assists. KC Ndefo was the only other Pirate in double-figures. He recorded 11 points.

Next up: both teams are in action on Tuesday, with Providence hosting Marquette and Seton Hall traveling to take on Xavier.


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