the Providence College Brothers missed Al Durham.
The senior missed Sunday’s game against Butler with a lower body injury. The FS1 show reported that he suffered from a sports hernia. The guard had started all 24 games for the Brothers this season. He’s second on the team in scoring (13.4) and is the team’s best free throw shooter, hitting 85% from the line. Durham ranks second in the nation in free throws made (144) and eighth in the nation in attempts.
You could feel his absence throughout Sunday’s contest at Hinkle Fieldhouse while the Brothers were fighting against the Bulldogs. You could feel it as players, other than Nate Watson struggled to score in the first half. You could feel it while Providence fell behind by 19 points in the second half. You could see it because the team has managed that 50% (12 of 24) of his free throws.
You could also sense Providence’s combat, resilience, and kind of perseverance that could help this team in March Madness. The Brothers overcame that 19-point deficit to send the game into overtime. It was never easy in Indianapolis, but Providence adapted and survived en route to a wild 71-70 overtime victory. The Brothers improve to 22-3 overall and 12-2 in the Big East.
“We were a bit lackluster and it’s a credit to what Butler did to us defensively,” Friars coach Ed Cooley said. “It’s the first time we’ve played without Durham at the start of a game, so I don’t think we have a lot of rhythm, but I think it was a team attitude.
“Hopefully we can get Al back healthy with three games to go – and two at home – I would much rather play at the Dunkin Donuts Center. As much as I love this building, this place is hell to me. I am just proud of our young men and hope we can continue to improve as the year progresses.
Here’s how the Brothers came back for the win:
Nate Watson carried the Brothers
Providence began the two halves by going to Watson, who finished with a high of 22 points, so it made sense to go to the big man in overtime.
The senior started the extra period with a lay-up. A Jared Bynum free throw (18 points) gave Providence a 67-66 lead and it marked their first lead since Watson put up PC, 4-0, to start the game. After a field goal from Butler and missed Providence 3, Watson’s layup gave the Friars a 69-68 lead with 2:08 to go.
Butler didn’t make it easy in Providence on Sunday. The Bulldogs gave the Brothers everything they could handle. PC would score a bucket and Butler would respond. That’s what happened in overtime. After Watson’s bucket, Chuck Harris scored to put the Bulldogs up, 70-69, with 1:01 left.
With 38 seconds left, Bynum was fouled while driving to the basket and hit two free throws. Providence was leading 71-70 when Justin Minaya stole the ball to Harris on the next possession. Bynum, however, missed the next two throws.
On the next possession, Jayden Taylor missed a 3 from the top of the arc and Noah Horchler (15 points, 11 rebounds) grabbed the rebound with six seconds remaining. And Providence survived.
The brother’s seven overtime points were scored by Watson (four) and Bynum (three).
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The brothers relied on all three to send this game to OT
The Brothers dug themselves a hole. Thanks to the 3-point shot, they got away with it.
Butler led at halftime, 33-20, despite the attempt Nate Watson put the team on his back. Less than three minutes into the second half, Butler had a lead of 19 points, 43-24. With 4:53 p.m. remaining in the match, Cooley had already exhausted its three timeouts trying to put his team on track.
“I told the guys, the game is long. I think we were done (19), but he remained 16-17 minutes to play and it’s long in our business, “said Cooley. “It’s a possession at the time and I thought that our seniors have awakened.”
That’s when Providence showed resilience and impressive shots. After shooting 16.7% (2 for 12) from beyond the arc in the first half, the Friars shot 58.3% (7 for 12) from range in the second half.
After a slow start, Bynum scored all his points after half-time, including 15 in the second half. This helped the Brothers get started. A 3-pointer from Minaya capped a 15-4 run from Providence. That cut Butler’s lead to single digits, 47-39, with 11:00 to play.
As Bynum got hot, so did Horchler, who scored 10 of his 15 in the second half. The pair recovered Providence in the contest. They had two huge possessions in a row with 3 points from Horchler and Bynum. With 6:48 remaining, Butler’s lead was reduced to five, 54-49. Horchler hit another 3 and trailed PC by four, 56-52, with 5:57 on the clock.
Watson followed with a dunk at 4:20 and Butler lead was reduced to two. However, Bo Hodges responded with a layup and a – and ahead rose to five. Minaya was fouled by firing a 3 on the next possession but missed all three attempts. Butler then scored and Providence has lost seven points, 61-54, with 3:03 to go. Then AJ Reeves intervened. The guard hit two consecutive 3 and the Brothers were led by one point, 61-60, with 1:42 on the clock.
After trading baskets again, Butler led, 63-62, with 1:04 to go. Then Harris made one of two free throws to give the Bulldogs a 64-62 lead. Twelve seconds later, Horchler tied the game 64-64, with a long two-point jumper with 23 seconds left.
With three seconds remaining, Horchler blocked Aaron Thompson’s lay-up attempt. Reeves’ attempt at the buzzer failed and the game went to overtime.
“I was never worried,” Watson said. “I’ve been in a lot of games. I trust my coaches, trust my teammates to run the stretch. That’s what we did. The coach knew that was a big advantage and is went to see me early. My guys clicked at the end of the game. Jared Bynum left. Noah Horchler left.
The brothers were freezing to begin with
The Friars started fast with two Watson buckets in the first minute of Sunday’s game. After that, the team cooled off. Eight minutes into the game, Providence still had just those four points and trailed 13-4.
It wasn’t much better. Butler entered halftime with a 33-20 lead. He shot 51.9% in the first half to Providence’s 23.3% from the floor. Aside from Watson, the Brothers were freezing. The big man had 10 of Providence’s 20 points in the first half. Only two other teammates have scored – Horchler (five), Andrew Fonts (three) and Reeves (two).
In the first half, PC had five players with 0-for in their stat line: Bynum (0-7), AJ Reeves (0-5), Justin Minaya (0-2), Alyn Breed (0-1) and Brycen. Goodine (0-1). Besides Watson (4-8) and Drew Fonts (1-1), the Friars shot 2 for 21 (9.5%) in the first 20 minutes.
“We definitely missed Al,” Watson said. “We call it the closest. He makes the free throws at the end. We missed a couple. It would have been a lot easier if we made those free throws. We missed them. We hope he gets better soon.
Butler scored 24 of his 33 points in the paint by seven different players. The Bulldogs were 11 points behind on turnovers, to zero by PC.
After Watson’s second lay-up, Butler went on a 13-0 run. PC shot just 20 percent from the floor (2 for 10) dropping from 0 for 8 in that span. The offense was 0 for 5 from beyond the arc to start this game. Providence also had four turnovers in that span. Butler scored nine points on those errors.
Horchler stopped the bleeding with a 3-pointer at 11:31 – nearly nine minutes after Watson had back-to-back scores. As the minutes ticked by, Providence’s shooting percentage dwindled and Butler’s lead increased. The Bulldogs attacked offensively and the Brothers struggled to get into a rhythm at either end of the field.
Fourteen minutes later, the Bulldogs had a 23-8 lead and the Friars were shooting 14.3 percent (3 for 21) from the floor and 10 percent (1 for 10) from beyond the arc.
The 23% shooting percentage was the lowest first-half mark for the Brothers this season.
PROVIDENCY (71): Horchler 5-11 2-2 15, Minaya 1-4 0-4 3, Watson 10-15 2-5 22, Bynum 5-16 6-11 18, Reeves 2-10 2-2 8, Croswell 1-1 0-0 2, Race 0-1 0-0 0, Goodine 0-1 0-0 0, A.Fonts 1-1 0-0 3; totals 25-60 12-24 71. Butler (70): Golden 4-9 0-2 8, Nze 4-7 2-4 11, Harris 6-10 3-4 17, Hodges 4-11 4-5 13, Thompson 5-8 6-6 16, Taylor 1-4 0-0 3, Lukosius 1-3 0-0 2, Groce 0-0 0-0 0, Hughes 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 25-52 15-21 70.
Halftime – Butler 33-20. Final 3-point goals — Providence 9-25 (Horchler 3-8, Bynum 2-5, Reeves 2-6, A.Fonts 1-1, Minaya 1-4, Goodine 0-1), Butler 5-13 (Harris 2-3, Nze 1-1, Taylor 1-2, Hodges 1-4, Golden 0-3). Rebounds – Providence 33 (Horchler 11), Butler 27 (Hodges 8). Assists – Providence 14 (Bynum 5), Butler 13 (Thompson 4). Total Fouls—Providence 19, Butler 20. Records—Providence 22-3, Butler 13-15.