No. 11 Providence lost a game to one of the worst opponents on its schedule on Tuesday night.
However, the Friars may have lost more than points on their resume in the process.
The Friars fell to DePaul, 77-70. Yeah, the same DePaul that is now 2-8 in Big East play.
However, the bigger news here is the status of Ben Bentil, the Friars’ potential All-American big man. Bentil was injured at around the 10-minute mark of the first half when a battle for a loose ball under the Friars’ basket resulted in what is being referred to as a sprained ankle. He’ll be getting an X-ray upon returning to Rhode Island, according to the Providence Journal.
Undoubtedly, the Friars will be awaiting the result of that test with bated breath, because it would not be an exaggeration to say that they really struggled without him. The Blue Demons dominated the Friars inside to the tune of a 2-to-1 rebounding advantage. Defensively, Bentil’s absence also allowed the Blue Demons to throw everything they could at Kris Dunn, who threw up a commendable 14 points and eight assists but also threw up a 5-for-20 line from the field.
Dunn also looked like he was run ragged by the end of the game. When the final buzzer sounded his hands where on his knees, signaling that he’d given everything he had. The Friars assuredly also gave everything they had, but this game was a bit of a microcosm for the limited margin for error PC has this season.
Simply put, with Bentil out, Providence just didn’t have anyone else they could count on as a true second option. Finding a consistent third option has been a pretty significant issue for the Friars all season, and if Bentil has to miss any time then Tuesday proved that any game is losable.
On the flip side, credit DePaul for taking advantage of the Friars’ problems. Myke Henry dominated inside with 27 points and 11 rebounds. Billy Garrett Jr. outscored his counterpart at point guard with 16 points. Overall, coach Dave Leitao’s decision to largely sell out to stop Dunn worked and resulted in a massive win for the program in his first season back in Chicago.
How do you know that it was a massive win? The crowd in the arena was not quite big enough to rush the floor. So instead of the fans rushing the court to be with the players, the players rushed the stands to be with the fans.
Good for you, DePaul. You’ve earned the right to celebrate.