By JON REITER
The Providence Pioneers finished their three-game season opening homestand 3-0 after drubbing visiting Madison, 48-24, at the Robert L. Larkin Center on Saturday.
The Pioneers jumped out to an 11-0 lead over the first 5 minutes and 22 seconds and held the Cubs (1-2) without a field goal for a nearly nine minute span over the second and third quarters of the contest as they pulled away.
No Madison player scored more than six points. It was simply another vintage defensive effort by the No. 12 Pioneers.
Providence coach Lou Lefevre said he was more pleased by his squad’s victory over Austin Friday night, in which the Pioneers netted only five turnovers. Providence doubled that amount in their matchup with Madison with 10.
“We did a great job of not turning the ball over tonight until we got good shots,” Lefevre said. “We just made needless turnovers against a team that wasn’t really pressuring us at all. They were playing a 2-3 zone or straight man-to-man, and we were just traveling and fumbling our feet and throwing it away. ... I just think that got the game off to a bad start, although we got off to a nice lead.”
Lefevre noted that Madison was playing without sophomore guard Nick Macon, who was injured earlier in the week and was their leading scorer.
“I’m not sure we got their best effort,” he said.
Nonetheless, Providence won the contest by an impressive margin and the stats reflected the Pioneers’ dominance.
The Pioneers forced the Cubs into 15 turnovers, outrebounded them 24-17 and held the visitors to nine points in the second half.
Dalton Duley led Providence with 13 points and added six rebounds. Duley, a 6-foot-5 senior forward and veteran of a lot of battles on the court for the Pioneers, said he believes there’s still room for improvement.
Providence hits the road next Saturday to face Scottsburg, and has subsequent games at Charlestown and Floyd Central before playing in the Silver Creek Holiday Tournament beginning Dec. 28.
“As long as we play our defense and play how we’re capable, we can win those games,” Duley said. “We just have to keep our minds on what we’re doing out there on the court.”
Senior forward Ryan Pickerell, who finished with eight points and six rebounds, said that even with Macon gone, Providence’s focus was on pressuring guards Ryan Thurston and Landon Perry, who are Madison’s top shooters.
Thurston sank a pair of 3-pointers to finish with six points, but Perry was limited by foul trouble and only added one 3-point basket for the Cubs.
“They have a lot of good shooters on their team, and that was our whole gameplay — to contest those shots and try and limit them,” Pickerell said. “Not a lot of teams are able to play that kind of defense all the time. We just switch and try and keep pressure on the ball.”
The Pioneers also benefited from a good effort from senior guard Nano Grantz, who scored in double figures with 10 points and grabbed four rebounds. Grantz sank four of his five shots and two of his three attempts from the free throw line, and also contributed with four assists. Senior forward George Knott, who led Providence with 22 points Friday in a 61-37 win over Austin, finished with seven points and five rebounds.