No. 20 Providence looks to avoid back-to-back home losses Saturday when it closes out the Big East regular season against Seton Hall in Rhode Island.
The Friars’ 17-game home winning streak ended with Wednesday night’s 94-89 loss to No. 19 Xavier. Providence (21-9, 13-6) entered that game with a 15-0 record at home this season, including an 8-0 mark in the Big East.
“In our building, it’s probably the hardest place to win in college basketball,” Friars coach Ed Cooley said. “Give them (Xavier) credit — they made shots and they made us work for everything. The schedule says we have more games, we’ll coach them up, love them up — we’ll get better. It’s not the end of the world, but it’s late in the season.”
Providence never had the lead against Xavier and trailed by 22 points in the first half.
“When you lose, it stings,” Cooley said. “When you lose at home, I feel like somebody broke in. I feel like somebody came in, and took our toys from under the Christmas tree. I feel like somebody took our food. I feel like somebody broke our windows.”
Ed Croswell led Providence by scoring 17 points and grabbing 13 rebounds in the loss. It was his eighth double-double of the season.
Seton Hall (16-14, 9-10) is coming off Tuesday’s 76-72 home loss to Villanova. The Pirates have lost three straight and five of their last six.
Seton Hall was without point guard Kadary Richmond (back) against Villanova. His injury also prevented him from playing in the previous game, an 82-60 loss to Xavier on Feb. 24. Richmond ranks third on the team in scoring (10.1 points per game) and second in rebounding (5.2).
“We battled,” Seton Hall center Tyrese Samuel said. “That’s the point. One man goes down and we have to keep playing hard. I give credit to them. They made (22 of 23) from the free-throw line. It’s hard to beat a team that does that down the stretch.”
Pirates coach Shaheen Holloway offered no timetable for Richmond’s return.
“We get Kadary, it’s a plus,” Holloway said. “If he can’t come back we’re going to continue to battle hard and try to win these games.”
Richmond scored a game-high 28 points and collected nine rebounds when Providence won at Seton Hall 71-67 earlier this season. Seton Hall led by nine at halftime, but the Friars wrestled the lead away with an 8-0 run that made it a 62-57 game late in the second half.
Bryce Hopkins led Providence with 24 points and 10 rebounds in that victory. Croswell added 21 points and nine boards.
Hopkins is fifth among Big East players in scoring (16.4) and second in rebounding (8.8).
Seton Hall is ninth in the conference in field-goal percentage (43.5) and 11th in free-throw percentage (68.2). The Pirates will be the No. 7 seed for next week’s Big East tournament and will open the tourney against 10th-seeded DePaul on Wednesday.
–Field Level Media