A win is a win, but there is plenty of work to be done.

After Providence took back-to-back losses for the first time since February 2021, that is how coach Ed Cooley felt after his team’s 71-57 win over Merrimack on Wednesday.

The Friars (4-2) shoot for a fifth consecutive home win when they host Ivy League foe Columbia (2-5) for the first time since 2006 on Saturday afternoon.

“We didn’t have a lot of energy out there (against Merrimack), which I was disappointed with,” Cooley said. “A lot of turnovers. It wasn’t what I thought. I’m really happy with the win, but we’ve got a long way to go to be the team that we want to become.”

Four Friars scored between 12 and 17 points. Cooley was especially encouraged by the performances of Ed Croswell (team-high 17 points, seven rebounds) and Devin Carter (12 points, game-high 10 rebounds) in an overall “subpar” effort.

A South Carolina transfer, Carter logged his first double-double for the Friars, whose size and strength proved to be the ultimate difference against Merrimack.

“His defensive intangibles can change any game, regardless of the level,” Cooley said.

Columbia looks to rebound from an 81-79 loss at Binghamton in which they led by six with 19 seconds left before a steal and near-buzzer-beating 3-pointer capped a Bearcats comeback.

Freshman Blair Thompson scored a career-high 22 with the help of five treys. He also pulled down a team-high seven boards.

“We have guys with experience now and that’s great, and we can build off that, but we’re also trying to implement our freshmen,” Columbia coach Jim Engles said.

While returnees Geronimo Rubio De La Rosa (13.9 points per game) and Zine Eddine Bedri are double-figure scorers for the Lions, first-year players Thompson, Avery Brown and Zinou Bedri have all been the team’s top scorer once this season.

Underclassmen have accounted for 74.2 percent of the Lions’ scoring.

–Field Level Media