Friars blow by Bryant, 81-49
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
No Vincent Council? No problem.
Providence's all-Big East point guard, out indefinitely with a strained left hamstring suffered last Saturday, watched from the bench in a suit and tie...accompanied by a pair of crutches. What he saw, perhaps, was something unexpected by most of the 4300+ fans in attendance.
It probably wasn't expected by the Bryant Bulldogs, either.
Behind a career-high tying 27 points from 6-9 junior Kadeem Batts, and the first career double-double from 6-1 junior guard Bryce Cotton, the Friars (2-0) showed some surprising aggressiveness in taking down Bryant 81-49 Monday night at the Dunkin Donuts Center.
Even though the Bulldogs (0-2) dropped a 94-57 road decision last Friday to #1 ranked Indiana, with Council out of the Friar lineup Bryant had to figure they'd be in this game with a chance to win it. PC struggled to beat the Bulldogs by 12 a year ago (trailing at halftime), and with 4 starters back from last year's team - coupled with a short PC bench featuring only six scholarship players available - the opportunity to score a first-ever win over a Big East opponent was there.
Yet as is usually the case in athletics, one players' misfortune brings about another players' opportunity. That was the case for Batts, who keyed an 18-1 run midway through the first half with aggressive play in the post, and a dead-on jump shot to put Providence in control with a 27-7 lead...and the Friars never looked back. Batts scored 23 of his 27 points in the first 20 minutes, and while the Bulldogs ran three different players at him defensively, they couldn't find anyone to slow him down. Bryant also tried using full-court defensive pressure against the thin PC backcourt, but Cotton and freshman Josh Fortune weathered that pressure with relative ease.
Providence led by as much as 28 in the first half, before settling for a 47-21 lead at halftime.
Bryant started the 2nd half with an 11-1 run to pull back within 16 points after three-point baskets from Dyami Starks and Frankie Dobbs. With the Friars holding onto an 18 point lead with 10:15 remaining, a 10-2 run finally put the Bulldogs away, as LaDontae Henton (16 points) and Fortune (7 points, 6 assists) hit key shots and contributed heavily on the defensive end. Bryant's top scorer, 6-6 junior Alex Francis scored 11 points in the first half, but could manage only two points in the second half...with PC's defense shutting down his offensive game.
And the Bulldogs had no answer for the Friars on the inside, either. PC won the backboard battle, outrebounding the Bulldogs 42-28, and limiting Bryant to just 31% shooting from the floor for the game. The Bulldogs also struggled from deep in their opener against Indiana, shooting just 4-29 from three-point range Friday night...and only 5-26 against the Friars Monday night (19%).
PC will travel to San Juan, Puerto Rico Tuesday to begin play in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off Thursday in Bayamon, PR. The UMass Minutemen, a potential post-season threat in the Atlantic-10 this year, will be the first-round opponent. Tip off is scheduled for 7:30 pm ET Thursday night. Should the Friars win, a likely 2nd round match-up could come against nationally-ranked North Carolina State on Friday...coach Ed Cooley gave no indication as to Council's availability for the tournament prior to Monday night's game against Bryant, except to say that he will be considered "day-to-day," and there was some bruising and discomfort from the hamstring injury he suffered...PC shot 57% from the floor for the game, and hit 8-15 from three-point range against the Bulldogs. They managed just 32% shooting, and only 14% from three against NJIT...6-9 junior Lee Goldsbrough did not score, but did managed to pull in eight rebounds. Batts also contributed nine boards, and Cotton's 11 rebounds (also scoring 24 points) were a career high. Cotton played all 40 minutes...junior walk-on Ted Bancroft contributed meaningful minutes in the 2nd half, coming up with several defensive stops and key rebounds...plus he hit a three-pointer from the corner near the Friar bench that not only thrilled the crowd, but charged up his teammates...Francis led Bryant with 13 points, Dobbs and Starks each scored 12...the Bulldogs will next play New Hampshire Saturday in their home opener...