Providence Friars vs. Wagner Seahawks: Gaines’ Offensive Breakout Sparks Dominant Friars Win

2023-11-29 11:53:17

PROVIDENCE — This offensive breakout from Ticket Gaines actually started Friday night.

He was scoreless in a comfortable home win over Lehigh, but it was what came after that set up the graduate transfer wing for success against Wagner.

Gaines responded to a Providence fan encouraging him on social media. The initial post on X — formerly known as Twitter — highlighted the consistent defensive effort from Gaines despite his lack of touch with the ball against the Mountain Hawks.

“Shots not falling? Do something else,” Gaines said.

That was no problem on Tuesday at Amica Mutual Pavilion. Gaines was on fire from the outset and the Seahawks were grounded, 86-52, thanks to a blistering Friars effort from deep.

Gaines was 7-for-10 from 3-point range — a career-high — and finished two points off his previous best with 21. He connected on his first four attempts as Providence built a double-digit lead inside the opening nine minutes. It stayed there for the final 25:06.

More: Villanova jumps, Providence holds steady in latest Big East basketball rankings

“My teammates were telling me to shoot the ball early on in warmups,” Gaines said. “Stay with it and they’ll keep finding you — that’s what they did early on.”

Gaines managed just 23 points through his previous five games and was 3-for-20 from deep on the season. He was a far more efficient shooter over the last two years with George Mason — 39.1% from 3-point range in 2021-22 and a passable 34.3% in 23 games last season. His effort was part of a night in which the Friars connected at 40.6% as a team and hit 13 times from deep.

“I thought the shared purpose of our group was really, really good all the way throughout from start to finish,” Providence coach Kim English said. “We met most of our metrics.”

Gaines added four rebounds, five assists and a blocked shot in his 27 minutes. It was typical of his all-around lines through two years at Tennessee and two more with the Patriots. He averaged 8.1 boards in his debut season with George Mason and totaled 36 steals in 53 games with the Patriots.

“What do you need me to do for you? Get them going — just being a team player,” Gaines said. “Being a person who can bring everybody together.

“Scoring is the last thing I need to worry about when I’m on this team. We’ve got a lot of great players who can do a lot of things.”

Devin Carter leads the way in sharing

Providence dished out 25 assists on 29 field goals.

The Friars split them almost equally between halves — 12 on 14 in the first, 13 on 15 in the second. Carter led the way with six, Garwey Dual matched Gaines with five and Corey Floyd Jr. added four off the bench.

“That’s a foundation of what we do offensively,” English said. “I think it’s basketball in its purest form.

“It’s usually always our first thought of the week — it’s amazing what can be accomplished when no one cares who gets the credit. That’s the way we want to operate as a group. That’s the way we want to operate offensively.”

It was a major jump in efficiency from Providence’s first six games. The Friars recorded assists on 69.2% of their field goals against Milwaukee but didn’t crack 50% in any of their other five outings. They recorded assists on just 33.3% of field goals in their lone loss, an overtime grinder against Kansas State at Baha Mar.

“We know [Gaines] can make those shots,” said Bryce Hopkins, who contributed 20 points on 7-for-11 shooting. “When they went zone to slow us down a little bit, we know if we just move the ball and take the best look or work for the best look, we’re going to knock those shots down.”

Keeping up the pace

The Seahawks (2-4) were forced out of their comfort zone with respect to tempo.

They entered as the slowest team in the country — 362nd overall in adjusted possessions per game at just 60.3, according to Wagner was forced to endure a season-high 70 adjusted possessions against Providence and the Friars notched 1.23 points per offensive trip.

If English had his way, Providence (6-1) might have enjoyed additional opportunities. The Friars passed up a couple of open perimeter shots in the second half and English referenced available jumpers for Floyd and Rich Barron specifically as something he’d like to eliminate in the future.

“We value shooting,” English said. “Our guys work on their games a lot. When they’re open in the game, we want them to shoot it.”

Health updates for Providence

Jayden Pierre (groin) missed his third straight contest.

Dual started at point guard despite Pierre going through a full pregame warmup. He ultimately emerged from the home tunnel just before the tip in street clothes, joining Eli DeLaurier (left ankle) and Justyn Fernandez (knee) on the bench.

“He’s moving in the right direction,” English said. “He’s been getting in practice more and more. He warmed up tonight. He’s feeling better.

“We’d love for him to be able to go on Saturday.”

Next up is PC vs. URI

Providence hosts its annual in-state grudge match with the University of Rhode Island Saturday evening. Pierre hasn’t played since logging five minutes against the Wildcats at Baha Mar on Nov. 17. He didn’t score in nine minutes against the Rams last season, an 88-74 win for the Friars at the Ryan Center.

[email protected]

On X: @BillKoch25

WAGNER (52): Kelton 2-4 0-0 6, Lewis 0-2 0-2 0, Ezquerra 1-5 0-0 2, Howell-South 2-9 1-3 5, Williams 3-8 4-4 12, Council 7-19 0-0 17, Zongo 1-5 1-2 3, Brown 1-7 3-4 5, Allen 1-6 0-0 2; totals 18-65 9-15 52.

PROVIDENCE (86): Oduro 5-8 2-2 12, Hopkins 7-11 4-7 20, Carter 3-4 4-5 10, Dual 0-5 2-4 2, Gaines 7-10 0-0 21, Barron 3-7 0-0 8, Floyd 1-3 1-2 4, Castro 1-2 2-3 4, Santoro 2-5 0-0 5, Fonts 0-0 0-0 0, O’Haire 0-0 0-0 0; totals 29-55 15-23 86.

Halftime — Providence 38-20. 3-point goals — Wagner 7-21 (Council 3-7, Kelton 2-3, Williams 2-4, Ezquerra 0-1, Zongo 0-1, Howell-South 0-2, Brown 0-3), Providence 13-32 (Gaines 7-10, Barron 2-5, Hopkins 2-5, Floyd 1-3, Santoro 1-4, Carter 0-1, Oduro 0-1, Dual 0-3). Rebounds — Wagner 32 (Council 8), Providence 41 (Carter 13). Assists — Wagner 6 (Zongo 2), Providence 25 (Carter 6). Total fouls — Wagner 19, Providence 15. Records — Wagner 2-3, Providence 5-1.

#Ticket #Gaines #Bryce #Hopkins #lead #Providence #basketball #Wagner

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