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NCAAB: Nate Watson scores 22 to lead Providence past Fairfield

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Nate Watson had 22 points on 10-of-14 shooting and grabbed six rebounds to help Providence hold off visiting Fairfield 80-73 in a nonconference season opener for both teams on Tuesday night.

Watson was named a preseason All-Big East first-team selection after leading Providence in scoring (16.9 points) and rebounding (6.7) a season ago.

Al Durham scored 18 points, A.J. Reeves added 13 and Noah Horchler contributed 10 points and 11 rebounds for the Friars.

Providence is coming off a 13-13 season and is seeking its first NCAA Tournament berth since making five straight appearances from 2013-14 to 2017-18.

Zach Crisler had 14 points, Taj Benning added 13 and TJ Long scored 11 off the bench to lead Fairfield.

Stags guard Jake Wojcik finished with 12 points on 3-of-11 shooting after leading the team in scoring one season ago. Fairfield went 10-17 last season and last made it to March Madness in 1997.

Providence led 42-35 at halftime after closing out the first half on a 16-11 run.

Horchler’s 3-pointer with 19:47 remaining opened a 12-point lead for Providence. After Watson’s layup at the 16:31 mark made it 54-43, the Stags answered with a 10-0 run to pull within one point.

Fairfield was within 57-56 before Watson’s dunk sparked a 12-5 surge that put the Friars in control for good.

The Friars opened the game on a 7-0 run but found themselves trailing 17-16 after Allan Jeanne-Rose’s free throw with 12:42 left before the break.

Friars coach Ed Cooley began his collegiate coaching career at Fairfield, guiding the Stags to a 92-69 record from 2006 to 2011 before joining Providence.

Providence hosts Sacred Heart in its next game on Thursday. Fairfield is off until Sunday, when it visits Boston College.

–Field Level Media

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