Friars Finish Off 49ers 75-66, Advance in NIT
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
It took some prodding at first from Ed Cooley. Then it took Charlotte's pushing them around in the NIT opener to get Providence going Wednesday night.
Whatever it took, the Friars finally responded.
The result was a hard-earned 75-66 victory over the 49ers of the Atlantic-10 Conference at the Dunkin Donuts Center - the first post-season win (NIT or NCAA) of any kind for the program since 2003, when PC beat the College of Charleston in the NIT at the Dunk.
As was expected, Charlotte featured a physical line-up heavy on athleticism, but without much of a shooting touch. Neither team could grab early momentum until the Friars, leading 29-26 with 5:13 to play in the first half, had the 49ers run off a 10-2 spurt thanks to jump shots from forwards Willie Clayton and E. Victor Nickerson than began to fall. Following a Lee Goldsbrough foul and subsequent technical foul (for slamming the ball to the court), Charlotte hit four straight free throws with :22 seconds left in the half, and the 49ers led 36-33 at the break.
Hurt on the offensive glass by Charlotte for much of the game, the Friars began to fight back in the second half. LaDontae Henton and Bryce Cotton scored early to give PC the lead, but the 49ers wouldn't fade out of the picture. A three-pointer from Terrence Williams (19% from the arc on the season) gave Charlotte a 44-37 advantage with 15:21 to play. At this point, 6-9 junior Kadeem Batts re-entered the game, after sitting much of the first half with three fouls.
And his presence paid off.
A 17-4 run by the Friars started with a Batts free throw, then freshman Kris Dunn took over. Scoring a season (and career) high 14 points, Dunn hit a driving layup to tie the score at 44 with 12:39 to play, and followed with a feed to Cotton for a Dunk half a minute later. A three from Vincent Council stretched the lead to 54-48 with 8:26 to go...and still, the 49ers were not finished.
Ivan Benkovic nailed a long trey, and 6-6 forward Darion Clark bulled his way into the middle, taking advantage of Batts' foul situation as Charlotte scored seven unanswered points to regain the lead at 55-54, and 6:35 remaining.
It wouldn't last, however. Another run by the Friars - this time 15-4 - sealed the deal for good as Council and Dunn repeatedly jabbed at the middle of the 49er defense and made them pay. Following a Chris Braswell layup to pull Charlotte back within three with 2:14 left, Cotton nailed a three-pointer and followed with two foul shots to finally put things away.
Cotton finished with a game-high 25 points, while Council matched a season high with 16 and Dunn hit for 14 to help make up for Batts' foul troubles...finishing with five points and five rebounds. After getting pushed around early, Providence (now 18-14) pushed back just enough in the end to earn another home game in the National Invitation Tournament, after 10 years of coming up short.
Charlotte ends its season at 21-12 overall (8-8 in the Atlantic-10, tied for 8th)...Nickerson led the 49ers with 14 points and seven rebounds, top scorer Chris Braswell (the only senior on a very young squad) scored 12 points off of the bench...PC's defense held Charlotte to under 40% shooting for the game (39%) and tied them off of the backboards 40-40, after allowing a 23-18 rebound advantage in the first half...Providence shot 42% from the floor (47% in the second half) and turned the ball over only five times...Council added five rebounds, six assists, two steals and two blocks to his 16 points, while Dunn contributed nine rebounds, six assists and four steals in his 34 minute effort. Henton added 13 points and nine rebounds...this was just the second meeting ever between the two schools, with the first having come in 2008 in Anaheim, CA at the 76 Classic (PC won 67-62)...Charlotte had some solid wins during the regular season, beating UNC-Asheville and URI (also PC wins) as well as UMass (a PC loss) and then-10th ranked Butler...this is the 19th appearance in the NIT for the Friars, with their all-time record in the tournament now 31-19. They will face NEC champion Robert Morris Monday (at the Dunk) at 7:00 pm...RMU stunned top-seed Kentucky 59-57 Tuesday night...