March 14, 2019 / 1:28 AM / in 7 days

Providence cruises past Butler in Big East tourney opener

Maliek White scored a career-high 19 points and Alpha Diallo had 18 to spark Providence to an 80-57 victory against Butler in a Big East tournament first-round game on Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Mar 13, 2019; New York, NY, USA; Butler Bulldogs guard Aaron Thompson (2) drives to the basket against Providence Friars guard A.J. Reeves (10) during the first half of a first round game of the Big East conference tournament at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Eighth-seeded Providence (18-14) advanced to face top seed and No. 25 Villanova in a quarterfinal on Thursday afternoon. The Wildcats won both regular-season meetings, including an 85-67 home victory on Feb. 13.

David Duke chipped in 16 points for the Friars while Isaiah Jackson added 13. Diallo snagged a game-high eight rebounds.

The ninth-seeded Bulldogs pulled to within 43-37 on a Jordan Tucker 3-point basket with 17:06 to play. Providence responded with a 15-0 run over the next 5:06, with Diallo contributing seven points to the surge. The Friars led by as many as 26 during the second half and shot 29-for-52 (55.8 percent) compared to the Bulldogs’ 23-for-53 (43.4 percent) for the game.

Tucker paced the Bulldogs with 14 points, while Aaron Thompson followed with 12. Butler’s top three scorers — Kamar Baldwin, Paul Jorgensen and Sean McDermott — combined for two points on 1-for-10 shooting in the first half. Baldwin led the trio with eight points in the game.

Thompson fueled a fast start for Butler (16-16), scoring six points during a 10-2 run to open the game. The Friars stretched the advantage to 10 points on a Tucker trey with 10:05 remaining in the half, but relinquished the lead for good less than six minutes later.

Providence never trailed after Duke swished a 3-pointer at the 4:11 mark to give the Friars a 23-21 edge. After starting the game 2-for-12 from the field, the Friars closed the first half with a 12-for-15 effort en route to a 38-27 lead at the break.

White sparked the charge with 13 points on 5-for-8 shooting, including 3-for-6 from long range.

Providence and Butler met for the third time in the past 16 days. The Friars swept the season series, winning by six in overtime in Indianapolis on Feb. 26 and by 13 on their home floor in Saturday’s regular season finale.

—Field Level Media

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