“We were prepared for them,” first-year Pioneers Coach Chris Madigan said. “They ran a 2-2-1 press and a 2-3 zone with a 7-footer inside. We did a good job of breaking the press and beating the zone — so much so that they went away from it.”
Consecutive three-pointers from Dennis Ashley and Kavin Dotson late in the second quarter gave the Mariners a 28-26 lead. Providence played from behind for the entirety of the game, thereafter. It was an instrumental eight-minute frame, as St. Monica made seven of nine field goals in the second and forced five turnovers.
Josias Parker, Jonathan Ly and Kyle Lipton accounted for four straight possessions in the third quarter, culminating in a three-point basket that brought the Pioneers to within two at 42-40. A pair of free throws from Lipton minutes later knotted the game at 44.
St. Monica, though, never relinquished the lead in the second half, despite Providence cutting the deficit down to a single possession 11 times.
Parker’s three-pointer in the waning stages of the fourth quarter cut the Mariners’ lead to 65-62. Madigan called his team’s final timeout immediately after the three-pointer and called a play in hopes of St. Monica missing both of its free throws. Dotson made the second, however, and clinched the victory.
Parker led Providence with a team-high 20 points, including three from behind the arc.
“It was a tight game the whole way,” Madigan said. “In the first half, we gave up some transition points on a couple run-outs. We needed to be more careful with the ball, they’re an athletic team.”