The only thing worse than Benet's offensive effort on Friday was its timing.
The Redwings' boys basketball team struggled to score throughout its game against Providence St. Mel, and it wound up costing Benet a spot in the Proviso West Holiday Tournament quarterfinals after a 54-50 loss in Hillside.
Six-foot-nine Xavier-bound center Sean O'Mara scored 25 points and grabbed 21 rebounds, but the rest of the lineup struggled to match his output. Benet (7-3) shot 33 percent for the game, including 3-of-16 3-point shooting.
The Redwings missed all 10 3-point attempts in the second half as Providence St. Mel (10-3) contested every look despite O'Mara controlling the paint. While the Knights advance to face Bogan, Benet falls into the sixth-place bracket and will play Hillcrest at 6 p.m. Saturday in the Proviso West field house.
"That was part of the game plan, we let the big fella see what he could do and he'd have to score 60 to beat us," said Knights coach Tim Ervin. "I didn't want the shooters to get hot. The plan was to make sure they took contested shots."
It didn't take long for Providence St. Mel to erase a 1-point halftime deficit. The Knights allowed 5 points in the third quarter, including a pair of O'Mara buckets, helping them surge to a 39-33 lead.
Benet made it a one-possession game several times in the final frame but couldn't cap the rally. The Knights' 7-of-7 free-throw shooting combined with the Redwings' continuing shooting woes didn't help.
"We really struggled right from the start," said Benet coach Gene Heidkamp. "It's really frustrating because we had a good idea of what we wanted to do defensively and we just didn't execute. We shot the ball so poorly in the second half. I think we played frustrated on both ends of the floor."
Providence St. Mel burst to a 20-9 lead after a quarter before a pair of 3-pointers from Collin Pellettieri, who scored 13 points, helped Benet take a 29-28 halftime lead.
Tevin King led the Knights with 17 points while Bernard Lilly Jr. added 14 points.
"This was a quality win, but we came into the game expecting to win," Lilly Jr. said. "Twelve o'clock tonight it's a new day, just getting ready for the next game."
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