Friars cruise past Crusaders
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Sometimes, Bryce Cotton hardly seems like he's exerting himself.
Oh, he's working hard, there's no doubt. But the junior guard from Tucson, AZ - suddenly thrust into a role as playmaker AND scorer for the Providence Friars this season - is handling his role with a calm, collective cool about him. And his teammates are definitely benefitting from his play, as PC rolled past Holy Cross 61-42 at the Dunkin Donuts Center Tuesday night.
Cotton has filled in admirably in the absence of Vincent Council, who Friar coach Ed Cooley mentioned during pre-game was still a few weeks away from a possible return from his hamstring injury suffered during the season opener November 10. Coming into the game as the nation's eighth leading scorer at 23.8 per game, Cotton led all scorers with 27 points, chipping in four rebounds, six assists and two steals as well. His first two treys of the game helped key an early 11-2 run as PC broke from the starting line with a 18-9 lead in the opening 10 minutes.
Add a more relaxed LaDontae Henton (eight points, seven rebounds at the break) from the outside, along with continued strong play inside from Kadeem Batts, and the Friars stretched the early lead to an 11-point margin at the half, 30-19, hitting nine of their final 18 attempts from the floor. PC played a 2-3 zone the entire way, challenging the Crusaders' shooters outside (limiting HC to 1-11 from three-point range), and presenting a challenge for them inside, as well.
After slowly edging the 11-point lead to 12 in the opening four minutes of the second half, the Friars shut the door on any Holy Cross comeback attempt. A 13-0 run grew to a 22-4 edge over a 12 minute span, as the Crusaders went scoreless for an 8:10 stretch against the Friar zone. Once they managed to get untracked, it was over. PC held a 61-31 lead with 3:30 to play...and coasted in from there as HC scored the final 11 points of the game.
Holy Cross was led by junior center Dave Dudzinski's 11 points and eight rebounds, while freshman Christopher Morgan contributed eight points off the bench. Henton finished with his third double-double effort of the season (19 points, 10 rebounds) to compliment Cotton's night.
Effortless as it seemed.
Providence's 2-3 zone defense locked up on the Holy Cross shooters, limiting the Crusaders to a mere 1-for-20 effort from the three-point arc. That's five percent shooting...the zone, featuring freshman Josh Fortune on the outside with Cotton, forced 15 Crusader turnovers, but also caused havoc with any rhythm they tried to create on offense. Fortune had eight deflections on the night, and came up with two steals to go with six points, two rebounds and a career-best eight assists - with just one turnover...Batts fell into some foul trouble in the second half, picking up his third foul with more than 17 minutes left, and was limited to just seven points and six rebounds...Lee Goldsbrough was effective on the glass again, pulling down eight rebounds (and scoring two points)...there was much more fluidity to the Friar offense on the night, as 18 assists on the 24 field goals (on 61 shots for 39%) would attest...the defense held Holy Cross to 33% shooting for the game, and has held six of their seven opponents to under 38% shooting from the floor (UMass shot 50%)...the win for PC improves the Friars to 5-2 on the season, and is the 23rd straight win against non-conference opponents at the Dunk for PC...Mississippi State (2-4) comes into the Dunk Saturday for a 12 Noon tip off (11:45 am pre-game on 103.7 FM) in the Big East-SEC Challenge match-up...