Once again the Pirates (14-16, 3-14) struggles around halftime did them in as they fell to the Providence Friars 76-66 Tuesday night at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center. The loss is the Pirates 10th in their last 11 games while Providence has now won seven of eight.
“We’ve kind of done it to ourselves a lot,” head coach Kevin Willard said. “I thought we played really well but turnovers hurt us in the first half.”
The turnovers especially hurt in the final 3:27 of the half with the Hall finding themselves trailing by one. Providence took advantage of three Pirate turnovers during this stretch to close out the half on a 9-3 run.
Willard also mentioned the week off between games might have contributed to his team not being too sharp in the first half.
“We were a little rusty and I think the turnovers might have been the cause of that,” Willard said.
Providence continued to pressure the Pirates in the second half and jumped out to a 50-38 lead following back-to-back baskets from junior Kadeem Batts and senior Vincent Council.
“I thought we got a little worn down,” Willard said. “Mentally I thought we had some good opportunities that got us a little deflated. I though the guys battled and gave us good opportunities we just didn’t take them.”
The opportunities saw the Hall close to within five point on two free throws from sophomore Aaron Cosby but Batts once again made the big play for the Friars and responded with a three point play that contributed to his game high 27 points. Batts also added a game-high 12 rebounds, one short of his career high.
“Kadeem played great, he’s by far the most improved player in the league,” Willard said. “When he is playing that well with those two guards they are tough to beat.”
Trailing by 11 and 2:50 on the clock, junior Fuquan Edwin converted a four point play that brought the Pirates within seven but once again Providence quickly dashed any hope the Hall had by junior Bryce Cotton knocking down a 3-pointer on the other end.
“(Providence’s) two guards are playing as well as anyone in the league,” Willard said of the Friars Cotton and senior Vincent Council. “They are playing at a very high level for the minutes they are playing and it’s a testament to the type of players they are.”
Edwin led all five Pirates that score in double-figures with 15 points with junior Eugene Teague and Cosby close behind with 13 apiece.
The Hall returns home to face the Rutgers Scarlet Knights in the team’s final regular season game on Friday night.
“I think winning your last home game is very important. At this point we are just trying to get ‘W’s,'” Willard said. “It could be against the Knicks and it would be just as important.”