Friars Handle Rams 72-57, Coaches Stoke Rivalry
Friday, December 07, 2012
It may not have been the greatest basketball and there may have been a few empty seats in the upper reaches of the Dunkin’ Donuts Center, but the intensity level was ratcheted up a few notches Thursday night because it was PC vs. URI.
In a turnover-filled first half, neither team was able to distance itself from the other. The largest lead by either team was a 4-point advantage on a few occasions by the Friars. Rhody’s largest lead in the first half was 1-point. The score at halftime was 27-26 PC which set the stage for an exciting final 20 minutes.
Just over 2 minutes into the second half, a Jordan Hare dunk put the Rams up 33-31. However, that seemed to awaken the Friars.
PC responded with a 9-0 run over the next 2 minutes to take a 40-33 lead forcing URI head coach Dan Hurley to call a timeout.
Rhody came out of the timeout with another Hare jam cutting the deficit to 5 for the Rams.
A Kadeem Batts jumper upped the lead to 7 for the Friars on the ensuing possession but the Rams refused to buckle.
The Rams cut it to a 3-point game on free throws by Nikola Malesevic and Mike Powell, but the Friars would respond.
A 10-0 run by Providence over the next 5:30 gave the Friars a 13-point lead 52-39 whipping the home crowd into a frenzy.
PC was able to hold the Rams at arms length for the final 8 minutes of the game on their way to the 72-57 win.
The victory improved the Friars record to (7-2) on the season while the Rams dropped to (2-7).
Providence will now take the next 12 days of for exams before returning to play December 18th at home against Colgate.
Rhode Island is off for 9 days before the Rams host SMU at the Ryan Center December 15th.
-The big question for Providence College heading into Thursday night’s game was would their leading scorer Bryce Cotton play? That question was answered early as Cotton was in the Friars starting line-up.
The next question was would Cotton’s injured knee hamper his ability to be effective? Again, an early answer. Cotton knocked down a three for the first bucket of the game for either team getting Providence out to a 3-0 lead.
In all fairness, Cotton seemed to lack his usual explosiveness because of the knee but he gutted it out by staying on the floor.
Cotton finished the game with 11 points. Backcourt mate Josh Fortune netted 17 points.
-The first half of the game wasn’t the most aesthetically pleasing half of basketball. In fact, you might say that it was a “baker’s delight!” There were turnovers galore in the game’s first 20 minutes with Providence committing 13 and URI committing 11. For the game, Rhody committed 20 turnovers to PC's 16.
-For those who have yet to see Rhody coach Dan Hurley operate on the sideline, it’s quite a treat. Hurley is as intense as it gets coaching his team up and sometimes wanders a few feet out onto the court. He also isn’t afraid to let the officials know how they are doing throughout the course of the game. On a play in the first half where T.J. Buchanan was called for fouling Josh Fortune while attempting a three, Hurley kicked his leg out toward the ref to let him know that he thought that it was Fortune who had initiated the contact by kicking out his leg into the defender. And, with just over 2 minutes to play in the first half, Hurley had to remove his glasses and wipe the sweat off of his face with a yellow towel.
-Of course, the same can be said for Friars head coach Ed Cooley who, himself, is animated on the sideline. Cooley constantly lifts his arms up in the air when his team is on defense and barks out instructions to his players when they are on his end of the floor. With :35 seconds to go in the first half, he welcomed his team to the huddle during a timeout by pumping both fists yelling “come on!”
-Rhody fab frosh Jordan Hare had a follow-up put-back dunk of a missed 15-foot jump shot by Nikola Malesevic a couple of minutes into the second half bringing the Ram fans to their feet. Hare had three dunks in the game and showed a glimpse of the type of impact player he should be for URI over the next 3 ½ seasons. He finished with 14 points on 6-7 shooting. He also had 4 rebounds and 3 blocked shots.
-As well as Hare played at times, URI didn’t seem to have an answer for PC’s frontcourt tandem of Kadeem Batts and LaDontae Henton. Batts finished the game with 23 points and 7 rebounds while Henton finished with 21 points and a career high 17 rebounds, his 4th double-double of the season and 13th of his career. After the game, Cooley praised the duo. “I thought Kadeem and LaDontae were the two best players on the floor all night,” he said. “LaDontae had the best game of his collegiate career in my opinion.”
-URI also wasn’t helped by the fact that their leading scorer Xavier Munford had an off night. Munford came into the game leading the Atlantic Ten in scoring at 18.9 points per game which also ranked him 53rd nationally. However, Thursday he managed just 10 points on just 3-13 shooting which included going 0-8 from three point range. 4 of those 10 points came in the game’s final minute. Coach Hurley said that his off night certainly didn’t help the Rams. “Xavier Munford has been great for us this year and tonight he got the same looks on shots as he has through the first 8 games,” he said. “For whatever reason, they didn’t go down tonight but I would say that 11 of his 13 shots were open looks.”
-PC has held its last three opponents to 6-for-60 (10%) shooting from the three-point arc, as URI managed to hit just 3-of-18. The Friars lead the Big East in three-point field goal defense. And with the win, Providence has now won 25 straight non-conference games at home.
-Ed Cooley could not say enough about the effort of his players in the first half of the season despite being severely undermanned due to injury and other circumstances. “I’m happy we won and now we need a break,” he said. “When (Vincent Council) went down at the beginning of the season I said ‘it’s going to be a long semester’ but the players have done an unbelievable job!” When asked what he would have thought if someone told him they’d be (7-2) after Council went down, Cooley responded, “I would have asked that man to have a sip of what he was drinking. Not a sip, a gulp!”
-Cooley also praised Dan Hurley and the URI staff for the great talent they have added to the program and, along with the players he will be adding to his roster, really believes that this PC-URI game will take off in future years. However, he did raise some eyebrows when he talked about where next year’s game will be played. “Next year we have to go down to whatever that gym is,” he said. “But the Dunk is where this game should be played every year.” When asked why he thought that should be the case, he responded with, “because I’m greedy!”
-URI’s Dan Hurley also believes that this game has a bright future. “I’m more concerned about our 20 turnovers tonight and what we can do to improve, but we’re excited about the future of this game,” he said. “This will not only be a great game for the state but this will be a national game.” Hurley was also asked what he thought of Cooley’s suggestion that the game be played at the Dunk every year and his response was quite simple. “No,” he said. “That ain’t happening. Next year it will be at the Ryan Center and it’s going to be exciting because these are going to be two national programs.”
-Rhode Island’s own Don Orsillo – the voice of the Boston Red Sox – handled the television play-by-play for Thursday night’s game which was televised on Cox’s OSN.