Freemen Face Early Exit
Men’s basketball squad falls to #1 NCU in opening round match-up
The Providence men’s basketball team headed to Ankeny, Iowa this past weekend for their NCCAA Division II Regional Tournament. The squad owned the #4 seed going into the tourney and thus got stuck with an unenviable first round match-up against the #1 ranked North Central University Rams, a squad that made it through region play undefeated.
In the one previous meeting between the two sides this season the Rams destroyed the Freemen by 50 points, leaving Providence with a sour taste in their mouths and looking for redemption. Friday afternoon’s game against the Rams posed just an opportunity, and, despite a 64-42, 22 point loss, Freemen coach Juan Larios and his young squad left the game happy with the vast improvement they have gone through since the last time the two squads met.
“It was actually a good confidence booster to only lose by 22,” coach Larios commented after the game. “Considering Coursey, Cyr and Patterson were all injured in the first half, and that the first time we played them we lost by fifty points, I was extremely pleased that we showed we could hang with a team like that.”
Both sides played a tight back-and-forth match-up for the first ten minutes as the Freemen side was sparked by an inspired effort from senior Jon Patterson. However, Patterson went down to a hip injury midway through the first with the Freemen only down 16-14, and the momentum started to shift. The Freemen injury count then began to soar as both sophomore Joel Coursey and freshman Cam Cyr fell to injury shortly after. Seeing their chance to pull away, NCU started to pour on a tight ball-pressuring defense, capitalized on fast-break opportunities and found their rhythm on the offensive end to hold a double digit lead heading into the half.
The Freemen bench, led by a physically dominant performance from senior Dave Holowaty (9 rbs), then gave a strong second-half effort as they held the usually high-octane Rams offense to only 25 points. However the inspired defensive effort wasn’t enough to pull off the upset, and NCU took the game 64-42 to eliminate Providence from the tournament.
Despite the loss Coach Larios left the game impressed with the way his team performed against the region’s top team.
“NCU is a quick team and we simply don't have the depth that they do to run and put pressure the same way they do,” coach Larios commented following the game. “We can match intensity and play at that level. We just need to sustain that for longer periods of time.”
“Our team also got a chance to stay for the finals, and we had never seen the top teams play each other before. The physicality, consistency and execution is hard to overlook. You can say to a player they need to be stronger and more consistent, but until they see why they would need to be, they will most likely never have the internal motivation to do what is required of them to compete at the next level.”
Larios also left the game enthused about the performance from his seniors in their last NCCAA action.
“There was one player that stood out for me this weekend and that was Dave Holowaty,” coach Larios said. “He works extremely hard and was a beast inside. It takes one player to match the intensity and the physicality of the other team to feel as if your team wants to compete. Dave has shown that all year.”
“I also felt Jon Patterson was on his way to the best game he has played in his Providence athletic career. A bad hip injury in the second half stopped him from competing the rest of the game, but I expect the same focus and intensity for this week's preparation and games.”
Notes: Jesse Funk led all Freemen in scoring with 14 pts. The Freemen return to action this weekend when they play in their MCAC Championship tournament held at CMU. They head into the tournament holding the #3 ranking, and face #2 Red River Rebels in their opening match-up Friday evening at 8pm.
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