Providence surpasses Richmond to reach Sweet 16

BUFFALO — Noah Horchler scored 16 points and Providence had his best 3-point shooting performance of the season as he defeated Richmond 79-51 in 12th place Saturday night and advanced to the NCAA tournament’s Sweet 16 for the first time in 25 years.

The fourth-seeded brothers meet Kansas, the top seed in the Midwest region, in Chicago on Friday.

Providence has made a living picking up the close wins this season, with 16 total wins in the single digits. The brothers spoke this week about being aware of their skeptics and how they were motivated by being dubbed America’s luckiest team.

The Big East regular-season champions looked like a juggernaut against Richmond.

Providence (27-5) controlled the game from the start and rose to 21 on the Spiders (24-13) in less than two minutes of the second half when Horchler fired a 3-pointer out of the corner. The brothers shot 52 percent from the field and the best 54.5 percent of the season from beyond the arc. They came shooting 34.3 percent from 3-point range.

The brothers came through the first weekend of the tournament for the first time in six tries under Ed Cooley, the 11th-year coach and a native of Providence. They last got past the second round in 1997 when they made the Elite Eight. The only other time was in 1987 when they advanced to the Final Four under coach Rick Pitino.

Nate Watson celebrates after Providence's impressive win.
Nate Watson celebrates after Providence’s impressive win.
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Richmond crashed the tournament by winning four games in four days to capture the Atlantic 10 Championship as the sixth seed, then upset Iowa in the first round.

Providence never gave the spiders much hope of another surprise. The brothers scored the first seven points. They got open shots and put them down and kept Richmond’s Princeton offense out of color on the defensive end, something Iowa struggled with.

The brothers’ lead reached 16 when Justin Minaya scored a 3 from the wing at 9:17 in the first half. When Horchler threw in his third 3-pointer of the half with 19 seconds left, the score was 39-24 and Providence was 8-for-15 behind the arc.

Richmond’s Iron Man point guard Jacob Gilyard put on an airball at the other end to end the half 0-for-6 from the field. Gilyard, who had played every minute of the Spiders’ previous six games, ended his decorated six-year collegiate career with four points.

Cooley let some of his walk-ons play in the last minute. Before the regulars took to the bench for one last cuddle, AJ Reeves looked at the crowd of Friars fans in the stands, smiled and said, “Sweet 16. Sweet 16.” Providence surpasses Richmond to reach Sweet 16


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