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Providence storms back to top Rider, 66-65

Providence College Friars  coach Ed Cooley questioning a  ref over a call in the first half.  Providence College Friars host the Butler Bulldogs in men's basketball at the Dunkin Donut  Center on Jan 23, 2022.  [The Providence Journal / Kris Craig]   ORG XMIT: 00042492A
Credit: Kris Craig/The Providence Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

A pair of second-half runs helped Providence overcome a 15-point deficit and edge past visiting Rider for a 66-65 win in Tuesday night’s season opener.

For the Friars (1-0), Kentucky transfer forward Bryce Hopkins had 18 points, while Ed Croswell had a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds.

Hopkins scored 11 from the free throw line, where Providence was just 26 of 43 for the game. The Friars also made just 4 of 19 from 3-point range, with Noah Locke (10 points) hitting two.

Rider’s Allen Powell hit a step-back with 39 seconds left to make it a one-point game, but Providence survived after he lost his footing on an attempt for a final shot.

Dwight Murray Jr. led the Broncs (0-1) with 18 points, hitting four of his five (and the team’s nine) 3-point attempts, while adding six rebounds, four assists and two steals. Powell (15) and Mervin James (12) were also double-digit scorers for Rider.

Two of Rider’s first three field goals were 3-pointers from Murray. Reigning All-Big East second-team point guard Jared Bynum scored four of Providence’s first six points, but the Broncs soon used a 14-4 run to open a 22-10 lead. James logged six points during that stretch.

Rafael Castro’s dunk with 8:26 left gave the Friars life, but James laid in back-to-back baskets. Less than three minutes later, Allen Betrand (nine points, seven rebounds) and Powell canned consecutive 3-pointers to bring the Broncs’ lead to 15.

Rider answered a 7-0 Providence spurt with two treys over the final three minutes of the opening half.

Sixteen of Rider’s 40 first-half points were scored in the paint, including 14 of the first 24.

The Friars started the second half on a 13-3 run, holding the opposition to just 1-of-8 shooting. Hopkins’ 3-pointer tied the game for the first time at 43-43 with 14:09 left.

Rider took a 46-44 lead on James’ jumper with 11:36 to go before Clifton Moore scored five straight points, his 3-pointer handing Providence its first lead at 49-46. That began a 14-2 run that put Providence up by 10.

Murray’s trey and two free throws made it a six-point game at the 4:20 mark. Later, Powell was fouled attempting a 3-pointer and made all three free throws to cut it to 63-61.

–Field Level Media