Heading into the game, Bencze had hoped to lean on his team's defense while pushing the ball offensively. Neither panned out.
“We couldn't get our defensive concepts down,” Bencze said. “We didn't play great team defense. Any time we made a mistake, they made us pay. That was hard.”
The Pioneers didn't score their first field goal until 81 second remained in the second quarter.
“It was a combination of a lot of nerves and the game itself made them make bad decisions,” said Bencze, who called four time outs in the first quarter in an attempt to slow the Royal momentum. “They were caught in the moment. They were a little wide eyed. Louisville playing so well didn't help.”
Despite the struggles in the first half, the Pioneers (3-2) came out with some fight in the second half, playing their opponents nearly even for the third period.
“My challenge at halftime was to show some pride,” Bencze said. “Honestly, I was pretty pleased with the second half, just the intensity and the effort.”
Louisville was led by tournament MVP Nicholle Aston, who had 22 points, eight rebounds and three assists in three periods of play.
The Pioneers had two players named to the All Tournament Team: Bea Benedicto and Nicole Mungues. Benedicto led Providence with 12 points and 5 rebounds, and Mungues added 6 points and 3 rebounds in the loss.
“I just told the team that we've got two more tournaments coming up and I hope we can carry our experience here to those two and hopefully we'll get a win,” Benedicto said.
Providence was only down, 6-2, just past the midway point of the first quarter, but Louisville went on a 17-0 run to close the period.
The Pioneers faced a 51-21 deficit heading into the fourth period and Louisville sat Aston for the rest of the game. Providence put together an excellent fourth period both offensively and defensively to close the gap to 55-35.
Despite the loss in the final game, Providence picked up three early-season wins in the tournament.
“Every game we improved,” Benedicto said.