March 05, 2016

NEW YORK (AP) Providence coach Ed Cooley leaned forward, smiled and gave a quick assessment of the play of sophomore guard Jalen Lindsey.

''Wow,'' Cooley said. ''Jalen put on a cape today.''

What Lindsey did put on Saturday was quite a shooting exhibition. He doubled his career high with 30 points and he made his first seven shots, four from 3-point range, and finished 10 for 16 from the field and 6 of 9 from long range as the Friars beat St. John's 90-76 at Madison Square Garden.

''Coach and my teammates are getting confident in me,'' said Lindsey whose bright gold sneakers are a total opposite from his quiet demeanor. ''Hopefully that's the plan. We have to stay focused and stay determined.''

Lindsey has scored in double figures in his past three games after not breaking the 10-point mark in 14 straight games. He came in averaging 6.4 points per game.

Providence secured the No. 4 seed in next week's Big East Tournament which will be played on the same court the Friars just had a great offensive performance on.

''We shot the ball really, really well and that gave us offensive confidence and we were able to take advantage of some of their mistakes,'' Cooley said. ''It was good to play here as we get ready for the toughest tournament in the country in the best building in the world.''

Lindsey had a career day in the game's first 11 minutes when his perfect start gave him 18 points, three more than his previous career high

The rest of the Friars (22-9, 10-8) were hitting at a pretty good clip themselves as they were shooting 60 percent over the first 10 minutes.

Lindsey had 20 points at halftime and Ben Bentil had 15 as the Friars took a 49-26 halftime lead. Lindsey was 7 for 9 from the field in the first half and Bentil was 6 of 11 as the Friars hit 51.4 percent for the half (18 of 35).

What made the shooting spree so out of character for the Friars was that they came into the game shooting 41.4 percent, ninth in the Big East and ahead only of St. John's at 39.8 percent.

Lindsey finished 10 of 16 from the field and 6 of 9 from 3-point range.

Bentil finished with 23 points and 10 rebounds while Kris Dunn had 13 points and 11 assists.

''We didn't want to leave (Lindsey) open but Kris Dunn and Bentil are the two guys you worry about,'' St. John's coach Chris Mullin said. ''When a guy gets hot like that it happens some nights. But you can't get down by 23 in the first half. We played better in the second half but we didn't show up in the first half.''

Durand Johnson led the Red Storm (9-23, 1-17), which got as close as 13 points in the second half, with 15 points and Christian Jones had 14 points and 12 rebounds. It was St. John's fourth straight loss and 20th in 21 games

Providence won its third straight after losing five of six.

TIP-INS:

Providence: If Bentil holds on to win the scoring title he will be the fourth Friar in the past six years to lead the Big East, joining Marshon Brooks in 2011; Bryce Cotton in 2013 and LaDontae Henton in 2015. ... The win over Creighton this week was Cooley's 100th at Providence making him the sixth Friars coach to reach that figure at the school. ... The last time the Friars reached 22 wins in the regular season was 1977-78. Only six teams in the school's 89-year history have reached that mark.

St. John's: The Red Storm missed their first eight free throws before finishing 6 for 18. ... Two members of the Red Storm went into the final day of the regular season leading the conference in a statistical category. Federico Mussini was the top free throw shooter at 87.2 percent and Kassoum Yake was the top shot blocker at 2.7 per game, just ahead of teammate Yankuba Sima at 2.6. ... The Red Storm finished 2-4 at Madison Square Garden, winning the first two games there over St. Francis Brooklyn and Syracuse. ... St. John's honored senior Felix Balamou and graduate transfers Johnson and Ron Mvouika before the game.

UP NEXT:

Providence: Big East Tournament quarterfinals on Thursday.

St. John's: Big East Tournament first round on Wednesday.

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