Alpha Diallo scored 23 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead the Providence Friars to a 91-79 victory over the visiting Iona Gaels on Saturday.
Freshman A.J. Reeves scored 20 points and Isaiah Jackson scored 13 points and grabbed six rebounds for the Friars (4-2), who bounced back after losing by 19 at Michigan almost a week ago.
The Friars seemed comfortably ahead with a 55-34 lead three minutes into the second half. But the veteran Gaels, behind E.J. Crawford and Rickey McGill on offense, and an energized defense, closed the deficit to 80-71 with 4:50 left.
But a personal foul and a technical on McGill gave the Friars a chance to open up some breathing room, which they did on two free throws from Diallo and two from Nate Watson.
Reeves followed with a layup and the Providence lead was back up to 15 at 86-71.
Crawford led the Gaels (2-3) with 21 points and five boards. Asante Gist recorded 20 points and McGill compiled 14 points, four rebounds and eight assists.
It took Providence about 10 minutes to shake off the rust after not playing since Sunday, but once they did, there was no stopping the Friars. They connected on 33 of 67 field-goal attempts and went 9-for-22 from 3-point range.
The Friars’ size and defense created offense in the first half as the Big East’s Friars manhandled the Gaels from the Metro Atlantic Conference.
The Friars went on a 24-8 run over a 7:40 span toward the end of the first half to open a 42-27 lead after trailing by one. The crucial play came when Jackson blocked McGill’s baseline jumper and Providence’s acrobatic freshman forward Reeves connected on a circus layup.
The Friars made 6 of 10 from 3-point range in the first half and controlled the boards, outrebounding Iona 21-11 to take a commanding 48-32 lead into intermission.
—Field Level Media