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Friars defeat DePaul, 77-72

Saturday, February 01, 2014

 

Winning on the road has always been tough to do in the Big East. Winning against challenged teams has also proven to be difficult in the past…but somehow, Providence found a way to win.

Because they have Bryce Cotton playing in a black and white uniform.

The senior guard from Tucson, AZ matched his season-high with 28 points, and the Friars held off the DePaul Blue Demons 77-72 at Allstate Arena in suburban Chicago, IL Saturday afternoon. DePaul played without leading scorer (and 2nd team all-Big East forward) Cleveland Melvin, suspended for a second straight game due to a team violation, and the Blue Demons were also without freshman guard Billy Garrett, Jr. (illness) and guard Charles McKinney (injured ankle). Sometimes, however, that can work against you when new guys get to play.

And that’s precisely what happened at Allstate Arena. Despite working into as much as a 16-point lead in the first half, the Friars had to struggle for much of the last 28-30 minutes to put the Demons away. Leading 32-16 with 6:04 left in the first half, DePaul used the opportunistic play of little-used freshman guard R.J. Curington, 6-10 freshman Tommy Hamilton and seldom-used junior college forward Forrest Robinson to run right at PC’s defense 21-10…and close within five at 42-37 at the break. Curington and Robinson combined for five three’s in the first half, surprising the Friars with their shooting touch.

Opportunity knocked hard on the Blue Demons’ door. The two had played less than half of the 21 games DePaul has played on the season (Curington nine, Robinson 10) coming into Saturday.

After learning that the two little-used players could actually play, PC slowed them down in the second half…and Cotton then turned up the heat on DePaul’s challenged defense. However, the Demons managed to hang around and eventually tied the score for the first time at 62-62 with 7:00 minutes still to play. Former walk on Edwind McGhee hit back-to-back threes that literally came from nowhere, and Providence was reeling. Enter Cotton, who scored 17 of his 28 points in the second half, including a huge three with 5:38 remaining to put PC up 67-62.

DePaul never gave in, getting it to a three-point game after Hamilton hit a layup with 2:19 on the clock to bring DePaul back within 69-66. Free throws sealed it in the end, from Cotton and LaDontae Henton (19 points, seven rebounds), plus a Cotton dunk for the exclamation point with :14 seconds left. Mission accomplished – getting a win on the road is never easy, no matter the opponent.

And wounded teams often rise to the occasion as well, which the Blue Demons certainly did. But they don’t have Cotton in their colors…and his presence certainly helped make the difference.

Friar Notes

Cotton’s 28 points (with six assists) tied his season high, as he also hit for 28 against Boston College and Marist. He also played the full 40 minutes for a seventh straight game…two other PC players never came out of the lineup, with Henton (19 points, 7 boards, 2 steals) and Josh Fortune (six points, three rebounds, two blocks) also going the whole way…Tyler Harris provided a much needed lift offensively with 18 points and five rebounds in 36 minutes, as Kadeem Batts struggled scoring only four points on one-of-six shooting (team-high nine rebounds, however)…after a dismal 18% performance from the floor less than 48 hours earlier in the first half against Marquette, PC connected on 60% in the first half against the Blue Demons, and finished with 53% shooting for the game…DePaul was led by freshman Curington’s new career high of 22 points, with Hamilton scoring 13 (with eight boards) and senior guard Brandon Young adding 12. The Demons’ 40% from three (8-20) kept them in it most of the way, as did their 31-28 rebounding advantage. DePaul is 2nd in the Big East in offensive rebounds, just behind PC…the win for Providence was their 3rd straight against DePaul at Allstate Arena – and the Demons have won their last two against the Friars at the Dunk. The rematch comes in two weeks…the win also vaults PC back into possession of 3rd in the Big East at 6-3 (16-6 overall) as Xavier was beaten at home by Seton Hall Saturday afternoon 68-60…St. John’s, winners of four out of their last five, and fresh off of a 15-point home win (74-59) over Marquette Saturday, is next up for PC at the Dunkin Donuts Center Tuesday night (6:45 pm pre-game on 103.7 FM and friars.com), with a 7:00 tip. Providence defeated the Red Storm in double overtime 84-83 in New York on January 16th

 

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