Friars beat LaSalle 71-63, advance to title game
Monday, November 25, 2013
A bit of a role reversal for Providence Sunday night in the semi-finals of the Paradise Jam…but the end result was a good one again.
The Friars held on for a 71-63 victory at the University of the Virgin Islands Sport & Fitness Center, keeping the LaSalle Explorers down thanks in large part to a 20-for-21 performance from the free-throw line. And, PC sophomore Tyler Harris had a career night with game-high totals of 22 points and nine rebounds, leading his team into Monday night’s tournament finals.
After having a 27-4 run to close out a first-round win over Vanderbilt Friday night in St. Thomas, USVI, the Friars found themselves largely in command against LaSalle – holding a 55-42 advantage with 8:54 to play. The Explorers, however, reached the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament a year ago, and with four starters back from that team, they made their charge with a 16-4 run over the next 5:20 to pull within one…59-58.
From that point, PC’s inside strength paid off, with a Carson Desrosiers tip in and eight points from Harris – six of them coming from the foul line in the final three minutes. A Bryce Cotton steal off of D. J. Peterson came with 1:41 left, and on a pass to Harris on the baseline, he was fouled by Tyreek Duren.
Duren, a 1st team all-Atlantic 10 guard who led his team during their successful NCAA run a year ago, fouled out with a team-high 16 points. Harris hit two free-throws for a five-point lead, then scored on a bank shot with :52 seconds left to put the game out of reach.
Tyrone Garland hit a three to make it a four point game with :41 seconds remaining, but LaSalle (3-3) could not get closer from there.
The Explorers jumped out to a 10-0 from the opening tip before Josh Fortune got PC on the board with a jump shot four minutes deep into the game. Eventually, with the defense extending out to the dangerous LaSalle shooters, the Friars’ inside game began to lead a comeback…and a Cotton layup with 6:16 left in the first half gave Providence its’ first lead at 24-22. PC led 30-26 at the break.
With LaSalle unable to connect from outside – they didn’t hit a three until Duren finally popped one with 6:22 left – PC’s game plan to force tough two-point tries led the Explorers to more drives to the basket than pull up jump shots. Part of that resulted in a higher shooting percentage for LaSalle, but also six blocked shots from Desrosiers with the Friars’ inside strength winning out.
"We all come together at the end of the second half to close out the win," Harris said. "I was able to have success on the offensive end as we worked to exploit the mismatches with their smaller guards. I was able to use my size and length."
"We played a very good team tonight," Head Coach Ed Cooley said. "They had three outstanding guards and their big guys are tough. Our guys grew up a lot tonight as they had to fight back from that early deficit and foul trouble. Tyler Harris was big time. Kadeem Batts also had it rolling. It was a great team win and we are very excited to be playing Maryland in the Championship game tomorrow."
That's a result, like Friday night, that the Friars are glad to repeat.
Post Game Notes
The win extends PC’s best start to a season since 1990-91 under Rick Barnes. The last 7-0 start came in 1988-89, when Barnes’ Friars began that season 13-0, a season that also ended in an NCAA tournament appearance…Harris’ 22 points and nine rebounds were career bests. He had 21 points with seven boards against Brown…Kadeem Batts finished with 18 points, scoring 11 of the first 16 points of the game for PC before hitting some foul trouble…Cotton was the only other Friar in double figures with 11, and he struggled with his shooting for the second straight game, hitting just 3-15 from the field…Duren and 6-8 junior Jerrell Wright led LaSalle with 16 points each, and leading scorer Tyrone Garland had 14, five points below his average…Providence came into the game shooting almost 81% from the line as a team, and the 20-21 performance won’t hurt that average one bit…PC outrebounded LaSalle 36-35, and scored 18 2nd chance points with 15 offensive rebounds…Friar coach Ed Cooley got out of a sick bed to coach Sunday night, as he’s suffered with an ear infection and fever almost since the teams’ arrival in the Caribbean Wednesday. He took IV fluids Sunday afternoon, and reported he felt “80%” by tip off…the Friars get Maryland in the Paradise Jam championship game, as the Terrapins beat Northern Iowa 80-66 in the first semi-final. The game will mark the first between the two schools since the Big East-ACC Challenge in 1991, a 76-66 win for the Terps. PC’s only win over Maryland came in the 1973 NCAA Tournament, 103-89…the game will be broadcast on WEEI-FM 103.7 with pre-game beginning at 9:45 pm ET…