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Friars hold off Brown, 73-69

Thursday, November 14, 2013

 

It was almost deja vu, all over again.

The nearly 7000 fans in attendance at the Dunkin Donuts Center Wednesday night could be excused for thinking they'd seen this before...as an underdog Brown Bear basketball team (1-1) took Providence (2-0) to the brink before falling, 73-69.  Almost one year ago, Brown pulled off a stunning upset by beating the Friars at the Pizzitola Center on their campus with a last-second shot from Tucker Halpern.  This year, fighting from 17 points down, the Bears almost did it again with senior all-Ivy guard Sean McGonagill firing away and leading a second half comeback.

Trailing 71-69 and with the Friars inbounding the ball with just over nine seconds left, McGonagill knocked away an inbounds pass intended for PC's Bryce Cotton and stole the ball in front of his bench. Taking matters into his own hands, he moved the ball to the top of the key and fired off a three-pointer just before the buzzer that could have given his team the win.

His shot from just to the left of the key missed off the front of the rim.  Tyler Harris, who led the Friars with a career-best 21 points for the game, corralled the rebound and finished off the heart-stopper with two free throws for the final margin.

"I had a good look," McGonagill said afterward.  He sure did.  And Friars everywhere are glad they don't have to face him again.  McGonagill led the Bears with 21 points, 14 coming in the second half (including four 3-pointers) as Brown charged back from a 14-point halftime deficit. “We’re not here to play close games,” Brown coach Mike Martin said. “We’re here to win and I’m disappointed with the outcome. Providence is a good team and it shows everyone that you have to play 40-minutes of basketball instead of just 20 minutes.”

The same thing can be said of the Friars, who stormed out of the gate with a 16-0 run that gave them an early 20-4 advantage in the first half.  The Bears never lost sight of the Friars, however...and mixing six freshmen into the lineup on the floor - sometimes three at a time - they managed to pull within single digits before settling for the 14-point deficit at the half.

The second half was an offensive horror show for PC, missing 17 of 19 shots at one point...and they weren't much better defensively, either.  Credit Brown, however with plenty of fight in the 120th renewal of the cross-town rivalry.  Holding a 16-point lead with 18:34 remaining, the Friars saw the Bears outscore them 24-8 over the next 10 minutes, and Brown tied the game 58-58 on two free throws by Cedric Kuakumensah with just over eight minutes left to play.

Brown grabbed its first lead, 60-58, on a lay-up by forward Rafael Maia with 6:15 remaining in the game. The Friars answered quickly to tie the game at 60 on a Kadeem Batts jumper.  Batts scored 19 points, and grabbed 11 rebounds...good for his 9th career double-double.

The shoot-out was on.  A trey on a step-back by McGonagill gave the Bears a three point advantage, 63-60, but then three straight points by Batts (jump shot and free throw) tied the game once again at 63.

Another long McGonagill trey, with two defenders in his face, put the Bears up, 66-63 with 3:02 left, but this time PC's LaDontae Henton answered for the Friars with a trey of his own to tie the game at 66 with 2:24 left on the clock.

Providence took the lead for good on a three from Josh Fortune - his only basket of the night - with 36 seconds remaining.  Still, Brown wasn't finished off.  McGonagill's effort at the end was just short...and the Friars dodged what could have been a second straight stunner by the Bears.

"Don't take anything away from Brown," PC's Ed Cooley said. "They played a hell of a game. They played a great game. Those kids played hard; I like their style of play. I'll cheer for them every game.

"We have to improve big time because right now we're not where we need to be," Cooley added, "and we shouldn't be. It's early, we'll get better."

Post Game Notes

PC's Cotton, who led the way with 28 points in the Friars' opening win against Boston College, was held to just six points on 2-12 shooting.  It was his lowest point total since being shut out at Cincinnati almost two years ago...Henton chipped in 15 points with eight rebounds, and the Friars' margin of victory can be attributed to a 17-for-19 performance from the foul line.  They also outrebounded Brown 45-33.  7-foot Carson Desrosiers scored all nine of his points in the first half, and he finished with eight rebounds...the Bears got 16 points from Kuakumensah, and 11 from Dockery Walker off of the bench...PC managed to hit just 8-of-32 from the floor in the 2nd half, after shooting 53% in the first half.  The Friar starting guards, Cotton and Fortune, combined for just 3-for-17 shooting...Providence, which has now won 17 of the last 20 meetings with Brown, now leads the overall series 93-27...both PC head coach Ed Cooley and Associate Head Coach Andre LeFleur report that Kris Dunn continues to rehab his injured right shoulder, and they are hopeful he may be able to return to the lineup in the near future.  Officially, Dunn is still listed as day-to-day, after suffering the injury in the exhibition win over RIC...there is no change in the suspension status, yet, for freshmen Brandon Austin and Rodney Bullock...Wednesday marked the first day of the fall signing period for prospective recruits, and Ben Bentil (Middletown, DE), Paschal Chukwu (Westport, CT) and Jalen Lindsey (Murfreesboro, TN), each have signed a National Letter of Intent to attend Providence College beginning in September 2014. These three players make up one of the top recruiting classes in the nation. CBSSports.com (247sports.com) rated Cooley’s recruiting class as the 16th best in the nation, while Scout.com has the class ranked 18th, Rivals.com has it ranked 19th and ESPN.com ranked the class as the 20th best in the country...Providence will face Marist Saturday afternoon at the Dunk in a 4:00 pm start (3:45 pre-game on 103.7 FM), while Brown will next play at Sacred Heart Saturday at 2:00 pm...

 

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