Providence cruised to five consecutive wins by controlling games with its offense. Right up until the Friars ran into a brick wall.
Or, more to the point, a pack line.
Virginia's famed pack-line defense limited Providence to 23.5 percent shooting as the Cavaliers defeated the Friars, 58-40, in the title game of the Roman Legends Classic on Tuesday night in Newark, N.J.
Now the Friars (5-1) must regroup against visiting Saint Peter's (1-2), another team which prides itself on playing tight defense, on Saturday afternoon in Providence, R.I.
"Honestly, that's one of the best defensive efforts I've seen in years," Providence coach Ed Cooley said after the Virginia loss. "It was a really ugly game. It was ugly for the Friars.
"This is an opportunity for us to respond to some adversity," he added.
Saint Peter's defeated LIU with the help of a rare four-point play by Doug Edert in the final minute, but fourth-year coach Shaheen Holloway still wasn't satisfied, as a 12-point second-half lead for his Peacocks nearly melted away.
"I should be happy with the win, but I'm not," he said afterward. "We're just not playing Saint Peter's basketball. It's been like that the whole year. I've got to go back to the lab and figure it out.
"We turned the basketball over for no reason," he added. "Our energy hasn't been there. We haven't been playing the way my teams play and I don't know why."
Edert (12.7) is the only scorer averaging in double figures for the Peacocks, who will have to clean up the turnover problem Holloway mentioned if they want to keep Providence off the fast break. Saint Peter's has 60 turnovers and only 39 assists.
Providence's 6-10 center Nate Watson is averaging 16.8 points but is only 9 for 24 (37.5 percent) from the line, so the Peacocks may want to hack him early and often to limit his scoring damage.
--Field Level Media