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Providence surges past Rhode Island, 88-74

Six Friars score in double figures as the team improves to 6-3, following a 14-point beat down of in-state rival.


Photo: Friars.com

Introduction


I’d like to start here by formally thanking the University of Rhode Island Men’s Basketball team for hosting the Friars this Saturday, and for so graciously serving as a much-needed tune up game for a team coming off a tough loss down in Fort Worth.


Nothing says “we will forever be the little brother school” like getting your teeth kicked in on your home court in front of a sold-out arena.


Ah, how I love to knock on URI. This one was fun.


Let’s get into it.


 

Game Recap


The 2022 Ocean State Rivalry game was certainly an entertaining one… for Friar fans that is!


The Friars beat the Rams on their home court, 88-74, following an offensive beat down of Archie Miller’s young squad. This was just the win that this Providence team needed, following a tough, and frankly disjointed, effort against TCU down in Fort Worth, which resulted in a 13-point road loss.


Saturday’s win wasn’t entirely pretty, however, as the Friars found themselves going punch for punch with the rams through the first 15 minutes of the first half.


However, a 17-2 run over the final 5 minutes of the first half, capped by a Bryce Hopkins’ buzzer-beater, would give the Friars a 43-27 edge going into the halftime break.

Not only did the Friars hold their lead throughout the entirety of the second half, but their lead would not dip below 11-points for the remainder of the game.


As expected, Bryce Hopkins was the hero once again logging his second double-double of the season, recording 14 points on 6-for-13 shooting, and pulling down 15 rebounds. Hopkins was physical in the paint and was a commanding presence on the defensive end, pulling down 10 defensive rebounds.


Hopkins was joined in double-figures by the rest of the starting five, plus Clifton Moore off the bench. Jared Bynum and Clifton Moore each logged 14 points, Noah Locke had 13, and Devin Carter and Ed Croswell added 10 points apiece. Alyn Breed also pieced together a solid game, adding 9 points off the bench while pulling down 5 boards.


As a team, the Friars shot 54% from the field (34-63), 30% from deep (6-20) and 70% from the charity stripe. The team also won the battle on the glass, pulling down 37 rebounds (25 defensive rebounds) to Rhode Island’s 30. My favorite stat, however, is that the Friars had 17 assists on 34 made field goals. That means that half of the shots from the floor came off of an assist – talk about sharing the sugar!


Safe to say, this was a very well-rounded effort for Ed Cooley’s squad and, as promised by Devin Carter on Twitter, this was quite the bounce-back from the team’s loss to TCU.

On the other end of the floor, the hosts of the evening were led in scoring by Josaphat Bilau, who logged a game-high 16 points on 5-for-7 shooting. Bilau was joined in double-figures by Brayon Freeman and Abdou Samb, who added 14 points apiece, and Ishmael Leggett who added 12.


As a team, the Rams shot 47.6% from the floor (30-63), 33.3% from deep (4-12) and 90.9% from the free throw line (10-11).


Give the Rams credit, they came out of the gates hot in this one. But alas, for the second straight year the Rhody Rampage will have to tuck away their baby-blue spirit gear, knowing that they’ve lost their Super Bowl game to the Friars, yet again.


 

Takeaways


I’ll be honest, coming out of the TCU game I was pretty nervous for this one. Not because Rhode Island is a powerhouse team that’s been dominating its schedule (ha), but more-so because the Friars’ loss at TCU just so happened to be team’s worst performance of the season.


The Friars looked disjointed and overwhelmed by the Horned Frogs, and the result was a 13-point loss in the team’s first true road game of the season.


Saturday’s game against Rhode Island was the only other true road game on the Friars’ non-conference schedule, and everything leading up to that point was hinting at a potential upset. A quick turnaround, and a trip to a hostile rival road environment, following a flight home from Texas, did not seem favorable for a Friars team still searching for its identity.


This matchup had “trap game” written all over it.


However, the Friars came together and produced their best game of the season, all while humbling their in-state rival in the process.


This game was truly a well-rounded effort, which saw meaningful contributions from the top seven players in the rotation. The dominance of Hopkins, the resurgence of Bynum, and everything in between, proved that this Friars squad is capable to living up to its potential.


And the key to this victory, and all of the Friars’ other successes this season? Well, in my opinion: the sophomores.


Tonight specifically, Bryce Hopkins was clearly the X-factor, leading the team in scoring and rebounding, and dominating the paint on both sides of the floor. But looking at the season holistically, his fingerprints are all over it, and I would be remiss if I didn’t include Devin Carter in this analysis as well.


Hopkins and Carter have both lived up to, and exceeded, their expectations so far this season. While the team has struggled defensively at times, and has been unable to knock off quality opponents, the play of Bryce Hopkins and Devin Carter has been consistent across the Friars’ first 9 games, and is a big reason as to why the Friars have dominated their wins over inferior opponents.


Not to sound like a broken record, but Hopkins is that dude. Night in and night out he continues to not only impress, but improve. He’s clearly upped his physicality down low, and has made it an effort to clean the glass any chance he gets. Not to mention, he’s also sharing the rock. He dished out 4 assists in the win over Rhode Island, and is second on the team in assists per game, behind Jared Bynum.


In the post-game press conference, Cooley commented on how we haven’t even seen the best of Bryce Hopkins yet. If that’s the case, then we’re in for a treat.

Devin Carter has also contributed greatly to this Friars team throughout the early part of the season. He’s second on the team in scoring (behind Hopkins), second in minutes played (behind Hopkins), third in rebounding, and first in steals.


Coming into the season there was a decent amount of hype around Devin Carter following his freshman campaign at South Carolina, but it was still understood that he was only a rising-sophomore. However, thus far he has shown tremendous upside while, most importantly, making an impact on the floor. Like Hopkins, Carter is the type of guy that you not only want, but need on the floor at all times.


Cooley really struck gold in the transfer portal with these two. And the best part? As I mentioned, they’re only sophomores.


 

Looking Ahead


Up next, the Friars will return to the AMP (I still hate calling it that) to host the Manhattan Jaspers. The Jaspers have had an interesting season so far, as their head coach, Steve Masiello, was fired just days prior to the start of the season. Before that, the Jaspers were projected to finish second in the MAAC as per the pre-season coaches’ poll.

Manhattan comes into this matchup with a 3-3 record, including a 69-67 loss to Northeastern, who the Friars also hosted earlier this season (for those who don’t remember, the Friars beat Northeastern 89-65). Manhattan is currently ranked 287th in KenPom, 214 spots behind the Friars who sit at 73. The Jaspers are led in scoring by senior, Josh Roberts, who’s averaging 14.5 points per game and 9.5 rebounds per game. Roberts is one of four players who is averaging double-figures scoring this season for the Jaspers.


As I write this late Saturday night (its technically Sunday morning now), there are no odds yet released for this game. However, KenPom has the Friars favored by 17, with a 93% chance of winning. Take with that what you will, as Friar fans we know that KenPom isn’t too fond of us.


This game will be at 8:30pm on Wednesday, December 7th, at the Amica Mutual Pavilion. For those at home, the game will be broadcasted on FS1. As always, be sure to stay up to date with House Enterprise, Road to the Garden, and of course, The Flex, for all of your Friars coverage this season.


Go Friars.

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