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Friars fall in final minute to UMass

Friday, November 16, 2012


A heartbreaker, if there ever was one.

Undermanned Providence fought back from a 12 point first half deficit to the UMass Minutemen, taking a five point lead with 7:30 to play.  But the Friars just couldn't close the game out the way they wanted to, with UMass hitting huge threes and putting back big misses off of the offensive glass.  At the end, UMass topped PC 77-75 on a buzzer-beating tip in from 6-7 senior Terrell Vinson, in the Friars' opening game of the Puerto Rico Tip Off at Bayamon, PR.

“Our kids fought back and showed a lot of perseverance today," Friar coach Ed Cooley said afterward.  "Credit UMass, they played well down the stretch and won the game. I think we won a lot today. We fought back, we just didn’t win the game. That’s a tournament team we played today. We grew up, big-time, today, no matter what people may think of Providence College."

PC will face Penn State Friday night at the Coliseo de Ruben Rodriguez in a 2nd round consolation match at 7:30 pm.

After the Friars' got out of the gate quickly on the Minutemen, leading 8-2 in the opening four minutes, UMass kicked their defensive "helter-skelter" game into high gear, with full-court pressure causing PC problems.  A 24-6 run over an eight minute first-half stretch seemed to put UMass in firm control, until PC figured things out by slowing the pace as much as possible against a team that wanted to tire them out...with such a short bench.  Without senior all-Big East guard Vincent Council again, and only six scholarship players available...junior guard Bryce Cotton slowed the tempo and the Friars played a 2-3 zone defense - frustrating UMass and allowing the Friars to pull within six, 41-35 at halftime.  6-9 junior Kadeem Batts continued his torrid offensive effort of the early season with 12 first half points.

After an 8-2 run put the Minutemen back up by eight with 13:45 to play, Providence began to find its range on the offensive end, and also forced the Minutemen into some foul trouble.  Cotton and freshman guard Josh Fortune hit three's as part of a 17-4 run as PC took a 62-57 lead with 7:31 to play.  The Friars kept the lead at three points, 75-72, with 1:32 to go, before UMass scored the final five points of the game.  Junior sharp-shooter Jesse Morgan nailed a huge trey to tie the score, and in the final :30 seconds, PC's LaDontae Henton was called for offensive charging.  

“We didn’t execute at the end of the game," Cooley explained.  "The officials’ call didn’t decide the game. They call what they call. UMass’ transition game is good but when we forced them to go against a set defense, it changed the game. We are going through an incredible adjustment. Everyone is playing out of position. What we have accomplished in a short time in this early part of the season is something."

That set the stage for the final frantic seconds, as Vinson put back a Chaz Williams miss at the buzzer to win it.  It is the second straight game to start the year for the Minutemen to win on a buzzer-beater, as they topped Harvard in their opener Tuesday on a last-second three-pointer.

Little consolation for the Friars, who find themselves in a consolation game in Puerto Rico Friday, and oh-so-close to what could have been a big win over an experienced, talented team.  

Friar Notes

The game was decided in the paint, as a bigger, more athletic UMass team outscored PC 46-32, and outrebounded the Friars 15-12 on the offensive glass.  The equalizer came in the turnover department, as the Minutemen also committed 17 turnovers for 21 Friar points, outscoring UMass 21-12 in the category...Cotton led all scorers with 23 points, including a perfect 8-8 from the line...Batts finished with 19 points and nine rebounds, and now has 46 points and 18 rebounds in his last two games...Henton recorded his 10th career double-double with 13 points and 11 boards...Fortune hit a career-best 12 points, including 2-4 from 3-point range...UMass had four players hit more than 50 three-point field goals in a 25-win season last year, and all four of those players are back on this team.  The Minutemen managed to hit just 6-19 from long distance, with just two coming in the second half, both coming from Morgan.  He led UMass with 18 points, and junior all-Atlantic 10 guard Chaz Williams scored 17.  The Minutemen outrebounded PC 36-34 and outshot them 51% to 48%...the Friars lead the all-time series with UMass 22-6, losing for the first time since 1979 (66-62) at the Dunkin Donuts Center.  PC had won the last match-up in Amherst during the 2000-01 season, and had won the last four overall...Providence will face Penn State Friday night, 72-55 losers to nationally-ranked and pre-tournament favorite North Carolina State.  Guard Tim Frazier led the Nittany Lions with 23 points in the effort, but shot only 31% overall against the Wolfpack...the other first round winners were Tennessee (75-68 over NC-Asheville) and Oklahoma State (69-65 in OT) over Akron...pre-game on 103.7 FM for PC and Penn State will begin at 7:15 pm...“These kids are warriors," Cooley added. "I want my team to be edgy, chippy, confident, together, united. When you have seven bodies playing out of position, if you aren’t a warrior, you can get wounded in a lot of different ways. These kids are warriors. I like that terminology. I love that terminology.”


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