Friars tame Wildcats, URI Next
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Traditionally, the first game after the semester exam break features a cupcake...the kind of team that goes away easily. Except that this season, there really aren't baked goods of any kind on the Providence schedule.
Behind two double-double performances from junior guard Vincent Council (17 points, 12 assists) and freshman forward LaDontae Henton (11 points, 12 rebounds), the Friars eventually tamed the New Hampshire Wildcats 67-52 Tuesday night at the Dunkin Donuts Center.
These Wildcats - not exactly known for their prowess on the basketball court in recent years - provided plenty of fight for the Friars in PC's first game back following a 10-day break for semester exams. With a solid defensive team that finished among the nation's best in scoring defense a year ago, UNH entered the Dunk allowing less than 60 points per game - good enough to lead their league (America East) in that department. And it took awhile for the Friars to find their way around the New Hampshire effort. Trailing 16-7 with 10:34 to play in the first half, UNH put the clamps on PC during a 10-2 run to pull within one, and eventually trailed by only 29-23 at halftime. The Wildcats' defense limited Providence to just six made field goals out of their last 18 attempts of the first half - which turned out to be a sign of things to come.
Behind a solid start to the second half from forward Patrick Konan, UNH began the second period with an 11-3 run to take a 34-32 lead with 15:22 to play. True to form so far this year, however, PC withstood the Wildcat surge as Council put the Friars on his shoulders - scoring six straight points in a 16-4 run to put his team back in charge with a 48-38 lead and 11:46 remaining. Council's speed in transition was simply tough to slow down, much less stop, for the UNH defense.
While the Wildcats managed to hang around, trailing by only six with 9:37 to go, the Friars put the game away with transition baskets from Gerard Coleman, and work underneath from Henton and sophomore Kadeem Batts. Batts, playing his first game of the season after sitting out the first 11 games due to a team suspension, finished with 9 points and 6 rebounds. Henton scored all 11 of his points in the second half, with two key buckets coming during a 15-2 run that gave PC a 19 point lead with 3:11 remaining - and ultimately - gave them the win.
The Providence defense did show itself in several spurts during both halves, ultimately forcing the Wildcats to miss 17 of their final 22 attempts from the floor for the game. UNH also missed their final seven shots from the free throw line...which usually spoils anything that might be cooking for you, especially on the road.
PC improves to 10-2 on the season with their sixth straight win, while New Hampshire drops to 4-5. The Wildcats, 12-18 last season, won at Brown 69-56 last month, while dropping tight road games at Fairfield and Boston College...Batts' return to the lineup signaled an improved effort (as well as result) in the lane as the Friars outscored a bigger UNH team by 36-17 in the paint...Henton recorded his 3rd double-double effort of the season, as did Council. Council also added seven rebounds to his 17 point, 12 assist (a season high) game...Coleman led all scorers with 20 points, while Bryce Cotton was held to a nine-point night on 3-7 shooting...freshman Brice Kofane scored just one point, but came up with a career-best nine rebounds, and added 3 blocked shots...the Friars shot 49% from the floor for the game, limiting UNH to just 31% shooting...Patrick Konan, a transfer from Liberty, led the Wildcats with 17 points and nine rebounds...the Friar defense honed in on leading scorer Alvin Abreu in the second half, limiting his touches and holding him to just three points, after scoring 10 in the first half...PC leads the all time series with New Hampshire 14-1, with the lone Wildcat win occuring in 1930 - almost 82 years ago...next up, the renewal of the URI rivalry Friday night at the Ryan Center in Kingston. PC is 0-4 all time at the Ryan Center, last losing an 86-82 decision there in 2009. The Friars won 87-74 last season at the Dunk, as the home team has won the last eight games overall in the series...while the Rams have struggled to a 1-10 start to the season, on Friday they will welcome the addition of two mid-season transfers in guard Billy Baron (Virginia) and forward Andre Malone (Auburn)...