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Brown comes from behind to beat PC

Saturday, December 29, 2012

 

It's been almost 54 years since the Brown Bears could claim a home court, on-campus win over the Providence Friars.

And it might be another 54 before the Friars give them another chance.

Despite a career high (and Pizzitola Sports Center opponent record) 37 points from sophomore LaDontae Henton, Brown outscored PC 9-1 in the final 1:58 to stun the Friars 69-68 on the Brown campus in Providence. Junior Tucker Halpern (Brookline, MA), who missed all of last season with an illness, popped a three-pointer from the left corner with :07 seconds remaining to provide the margin of victory.  PC's Vincent Council could not connect on a runner, nor could the Friars get a tip to fall, as time ran out.

Score a monumental win for the Bears...and perhaps a crushing defeat for the Friars.

“This is a great win for our program as we continue to grow as a team,” said Brown head coach Mike Martin. “Everyone on the team contributed – from number one through eight on the roster.”

PC head coach Ed Cooley was very blunt in his assessment of the Friars' performance. "This is the worst defensive team I've ever coached. LaDontae (Henton) was gross on defense. He couldn't guard an ant.

"I'm sick to my stomach over this loss," Cooley added.  "This is back to back losses and back to back games where we didn't guard the three point line."

Indeed, the three-point line was where the game was won by the Bears, or lost by the Friars.  With a Big East-leading three-point defense coming in, limiting opponents to just 23% from the arc, Brown torched the Friars for a season-high 13 made threes (in 27 attempts).  The Bears also shot 50% from the floor overall, just the second time this season an opponent managed to hit half of their shots against PC.

The other time?  UMass did it...in a 77-75 loss in Puerto Rico.

Despite losing leading scorer Sean McGonagill to foul trouble in the first half, the Bears trailed by only three, 34-31 at halftime...thanks to Halpern's 13 points and three three's.  The Bears held a 31-27 lead with 3:25 to play in the half before the Friars ran off seven straight points to end the period for the halftime margin.

Momentum for the second half, perhaps?  Hardly.

McGonagill returned in the second half and the 2nd team all-Ivy guard performed under control, while connecting himself from long distance.  After a 10-0 Friar run put PC up 56-49 with 6:01 to play, McGonagill (13 points) and Halpern (28 points)  took over.  Each time Providence seemed poised to put the game away, the two Bear sharpshooters hit daggers against a Friar defense that seemed helpless to defend against them.  

Holding a 67-60 lead with 1:58 remaining, the Bears outscored PC 9-1 to the finish line, getting two three's from Halpern, and another from McGonagill to provide the winning margin.  Halpern's 8-15 shooting from the arc and winner with :07 left overshadowed the career-best 37 points from Henton, who hit 6 of 10 from outside the three-point stripe himself.  Trouble was, he had little help.  PC's leading scorer, Bryce Cotton, was held out of the game with an injured knee suffered in practice this week.  Kadeem Batts was the only other player to hit double figures, with 10 points.

The ugly numbers for the Friars, besides the final score?  Zero bench points, zero fast break points, outscored in the paint 22-18 - and outrebounded 37-30.

Even so, Council still had a chance to win it at the end...but in his first game back on the floor since suffering a hamstring injury in the season opener against NJIT, perhaps it was too much to ask.  “I knew I had a few steps on the defender and had a feeling he was going to fly by,” Halpern said of Council afterward. “It was overwhelming for me to be able to come back after missing all of last season.”

While a great moment for Halpern and the Bears, they may not get the chance to see the Friars come back...to campus again, for some time to come.

Friar Notes

Cotton leads the Big East (6th nationally) in scoring at 22 points per game, but according to the coaching staff tweaked his knee in practice this week and had it drained Thursday.  He did not respond to treatment as thought, and was a late scratch from the lineup...eight of Brown's 14 second half field goals were three's, as the Bears shot 61% from the floor overall in the period...Brown hit 13 three's for the game, almost double the 7.4 per game they average, which leads the Ivy League...PC hit 11 trey's, double the 5.6 per game they average on the season...Henton's 37 points topped the 33-point game he had at South Florida last season...the game marked the first visit for PC to the Brown campus (just 2.7 miles away from their own campus) since a November 1982 game at the old Marvel Gymnasium, won by the Friars 70-56...Brown improves to 4-6 overall on the season in getting their first win over the Friars since 2006, and just their 3rd win over PC in 19 years.  They'll play at Albany on New Years' Eve.  PC drops to 8-4, and opens Big East play on the road at 4th ranked Louisville next Wednesday...

 

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