USA TODAY Sports
Led by a highly productive Kadeem Batts, the Providence Friars continued their impressive form by notching a 76-66 win over Seton Hall on Senior Night at the Dunkin Donuts Center. Batts scored a game-high 27 points and snared 12 rebounds while Seton Hall was led by a hungry Gene Teague, who scored 13 points and added 5 rebounds. The win improves Providence to 17-12 (9-8) and keeps their outside shot at an NCAA at-large bid alive. The loss drops Seton Hall to 14-16 (3-14) and denies them the 11th seed in the Big East Tournament. Seton Hall was without the services of freshman center Kevin Johnson, who was suspended for the Providence game due to "time management" issues and did not make the trip.
Perhaps energized by the pending news of a "new" Big East, Seton Hall and Providence came out firing on all cylinders on offense. The Friars led 14-12 at the first TV timeout while Kevin Willard rotated Aaron Geramipoor in the game early on to provide a spark. Gene Teague quickly replaced Geramipoor and rattled off six points before the under-12 timeout.
Providence began to increase the tempo of the game midway through the first half. Irritated by the fast pace, Seton Hall surrendered a 10-0 run before Aaron Cosby completed a tough and-1 play to trim Providence's lead to 27-20. The basket proved to be momentum changing as the Pirates mustered a run of their own before Kyle Smyth was whistled for a personal foul on a Friar fast break. The officials huddled together and overturned the call to a flagrant 1, the correct call. Following the foul, both teams continued to trade baskets at a furious pace - Providence being the more efficient of the two. Kyle Smyth's three point shooting ability must have been left off of the Friar's scouting report because he was continually left open in the first half -- Smyth led Seton Hall in scoring with 10 points at the half and finished with 11.
After holding a 43-36 lead at the break, Providence extended their lead to 10 after the first 3:26 of the second half. Seton Hall booted up slowly after halftime, turning the ball over several times, missing open shots, and failing to cash in on free throw attempts along the way. Despite the slow start, the Pirates managed to narrow the gap to five points with 8:31 to play in the game. However, Gene Teague picked up a crippling fourth personal foul just 34 seconds later. Despite Kevin Willard rolling the dice by leaving Teague on the court, Providence immediately went on a 12-3 run that extended their lead to 71-57 before an Aaron Cosby trey that preluded the under-4 timeout. An extension of their impressive run of form, Providence closed out the game cleanly, never showing signs of relinquishing their lead.
Seton Hall hosts Rutgers on Friday night for Senior Night while Providence looks to continue their push for an at-large bid with a win at Connecticut on Saturday afternoon.