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NIAC/MCAC Cross-Conference Tournament
Matt Antonio at full tilt

Good Effort with only 6 Eligible Players

January 7-9, 2011 - The men’s basketball squad started off the second half of their season with a six-team NIAC/MCAC cross-conference tournament in Bemidji this past weekend.

And while the Freemen had only six eligible players for the tourney they were still able to walk away with one win and two closely fought losses. Providence fell 84-75 against Trinity Bible College, bounced back against Oak Hills Christian College to win convincingly 74-59, and fell just shy in the third place match 81-78.

The Freemen began their first game against Trinity with a lot of intensity and heart. Providence also employed a new-look zone defense that led them to a 40-34 halftime lead. Providence continued to play strong team ball and held the lead until late, but Trinity’s extra sets of legs became too much of an advantage as they were able to step in front with only minutes left and win the game 84-75.

Bahamian freshman Jon Thompson led the Freemen with 23 points and nine rebounds, sophomore Carson Rogers pulled in a double-double with 10 points and a season-high 15 rebounds, and junior Joel Coursey scored 13 points and added seven rebounds.

Providence then moved on to face Oak Hills Christian College in a game where the winner of the match would see themselves heading to the third place match. Providence played good team ball throughout to control the game from start to finish. The Freemen also shot a 50% field goal percentage in the first half and out rebounded Oak Hills 64 to 43 to take the game 74-59. Sophomore Chris Funk had 24 points and eight rebounds, Coursey had a double-double with 14 points and 17 rebounds, and Thompson added 14 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.

The win meant Providence advanced to the third place match against Turtle Mountain Community College. The Freemen came out with a lot of effort and heart once again and were rewarded as they held a half-time lead for the third game in a row. Providence then held an 11 point lead to start the second half and continued their strong play to hold it until late. However, some unfortunate decisions from the referees left Providence with only four players for the final four minutes of the game. The one-man advantage was enough to let Turtle Mountain come from behind to take the lead with time running out, but freshman Zachary Beazley hit a clutch game-tying three-pointer at the buzzer to send the game into overtime.

In extra time a third player fouled out for Providence, leaving them with three players. The lopsided advantage allowed Turtle Mountain to grab an early 11 point lead of their own, but the three-man Freemen squad showed a lot of heart to pull back within three points with only seconds left on the clock. With a two-man advantage, Turtle Mountain doubled both on-court players and as the Freemen tried to inbound, Turtle Mountain intercepted the pass to clinch an 81-78 win. The Freemen were led offensively by the three-man trio who finished out the game with Beazley scoring 24 points, Thompson adding 20 points, and Funk putting away 17 points of his own.

After strong starts to every game and a spirited effort to finish the tournament, the Freemen coaching staff left the weekend more than pleased with the direction their squad is heading going into the New Year. “The coaching staff is incredibly proud of our team and couldn’t be happier with the guys and the effort they showed,” assistant coach Colten Gryba remarked. “Good things are to come as we will have three more players for the rest of the year.”

Providence next returns to action on Jan. 14 and 15 when they head to Oak Hills Christian College for back-to-back games.

Written by: Kaiten Critchlow

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