Friars survive season-opening scare
Saturday, November 10, 2012
A win, is a win, is a win. But this win might have come at a cost.
Behind 24 points from sophomore forward LaDontae Henton and 21 from junior guard Bryce Cotton, Providence managed to edge past a tougher-than-advertised NJIT Highlander team 64-63 at the Dunkin Donuts Center Saturday afternoon. The task of beating the Highlanders, however, was made much more difficult after the Friars lost senior all-Big East point guard Vincent Council to an injury in the first half.
With 15:18 to play in the first half, Council slipped on the Dunk floor while receiving a pass and fell, grabbing the back of his left leg. The 5739 fans in attendance fell silent as Council writhed on the floor in pain, unable to get to his feet without assistance. After being helped to the bench, and into the locker room by trainer Bryn van Patten, Council did not return to the floor until just before halftime...dressed in a sweat suit. After playing just five minutes, he was done for the day with what he told radio analyst Joe Hassett was a strained left hamstring.
He will be evaluated further by the PC medical staff, and his immediate status isn't known.
The immediate status of his teammates? Relief.
After falling behind NJIT after Council's injury, PC regrouped to take a 32-29 halftime lead...despite shooting only 31% from the floor. In the second half, with the Friars holding a 36-35 lead three minutes in, PC broke out on an 11-2 run for their largest lead of the game at 10 points, 47-37 with 14:11 to go. The lead was still nine with just over nine minutes remaining, when NJIT found it's range. Dorchester, MA senior Chris Flores and Staten Island senior Ryan Woods found their outside touch, and launched a 15-5 run to bring the Highlanders into a 63-62 lead with 4:10 to play.
NJIT did not score, however, for the rest of the game. But PC almost didn't score, either.
Thanks to a solid defensive effort led by Cotton, Henton, Brice Kofane, Lee Goldsbrough and Kadeem Batts, the Friars had plenty of chances to put the game away...and yet could not come up with a clinching score on the other end. The final two points of the game were both scored by Cotton, from the free throw line in four attempts, to provide the winning margin. But just barely.
As such, the Friars opened their season with a win for the 11th time in the past 12 years, but it might have come with a price tag attached. Time will tell just how expensive that cost might be.
Post Game Notes
The Friars will face Bryant, a 97-54 loser at #1 Indiana Friday night, Monday night at the Dunk in a 7:00 pm tip-off...PC missed their last 10 shots of the game from the floor, but were helped by the Highlanders' missing their final seven attempts. For the game, Providence shot just 32%, while NJIT shot 36%...the free-throw line saved PC, hitting 21 of 27 tries. Ironically, Cotton was last season's best FT shooter at 89%, but he missed three of his 10 attempts in the opener...Batts scored 10 points and grabbed eight rebounds, as the Friars managed a 43-41 advantage on the backboard...Flores and Woods matched career high efforts for the Highlanders, Flores with 28 points to lead all scorers, Woods hit 19 (14 in the second half)...Henton scored 18 of his 24 in the first half, but could manage only 1-5 shooting in the second...New Jersey Institute of Technology is in just its 5th year of Division 1 play, and managed only 15 total wins in their first four seasons, before winning 15 games last year and finishing 3rd in the Great West Conference. In their first two seasons of existence, they set the D1 record for futility, once losing an NCAA-record 51 straight games...former Friar guard Michael Brown (1992-96), still 27th all-time at PC in scoring, is a first-year assistant coach on the bench for NJIT. He has previously worked as an assistant at Marshall and Dartmouth...