The Southeast Missouri State women's basketball team hung with the first Big East Conference opponent the Redhawks have ever played.
But Providence pulled away in the late going Saturday to post a 67-59 victory in the opening round of the Double Tree Classic in New Orleans.
The Redhawks, who lost for the sixth time in their last seven games, fell to 4-6.
Providence, which finished last in the rugged Big East a year ago and is again picked for the basement, improved to 6-4.
Southeast concludes the four-team tournament today with a 1 p.m. contest against Alabama State (1-8), which was routed by host Tulane 80-48 on Saturday.
Tulane (7-3) and Providence square off for the championship.
The Redhawks fell behind Providence by 10 points twice in the first half, but Southeast trailed just 24-23 at the break.
Southeast surged into a 34-26 lead early in the second half before Providence used an 8-0 run to pull even.
The squads were still tied at 40-40 midway through the final period when Providence used a 3-point basket to go ahead for good.
Southeast remained within striking distance in the closing moments -- pulling to within two points with a little more than three minutes remaining -- before the Friars finally iced the victory.
"We had multiple opportunities," Southeast coach John Ishee said. "We had every opportunity to win the game."
The Redhawks played without senior point guard Tarina Nixon, their leading scorer at 12.4 points per game.
Nixon recently re-aggravated a finger injury that has bothered her much of the season and she did not practice all week.
Southeast was led by senior wing Sonya Daugherty and sophomore guard Tore Fite.
Daugherty, among the Redhawks' top scorers since her sophomore season, saw little action the past four games due to a knee injury.
Making her first start since Nov. 28, Daugherty paced Southeast with 19 points.
"It was nice to have Sonya back," Ishee said.
Fite, who was academically ineligible for the first semester, saw her initial action of the season.
Fite came off the bench and scored a career-high 16 points, making 3 of 4 shots from 3-point range. She totaled 22 points last season while seeing limited action as a freshman.
"Tore gave us a big boost," Ishee said.
Junior center Lesley Adams led Southeast on the boards by pulling down a career-high nine rebounds, although the taller Friars held a 42-33 rebounding advantage.
Providence was paced by 6-foot-4 junior forward Emily Cournoyer with 16 points.