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Friars fall in another heartbreaker, 81-80

Tuesday, December 31, 2013


Another tight struggle, another down-to-the-wire finish. And for the Providence Friars, even with a little extra time again at the end – it didn’t go their way.

Welcome back to the Big East.

Fighting back from a 12-point second half deficit, PC managed to send their Big East opener against Seton Hall into not one, but two overtime periods…and lost a heartbreaker 81-80 to the Pirates at the Dunkin Donuts Center.

Minus 6-9 forward Gene Teague in their lineup, Seton Hall fell behind quickly in the opening ten minutes…with the Friars getting out to a 17-10 lead. Teague, a redshirt senior transfer from Southern Illinois, suffered a concussion in a fall last Friday night in a win over Lafayette and did not suit up, leaving the Pirates without a real post presence for much of the game. Trouble was, they didn’t really need it.

Behind the perimeter play from Sterling Gibbs, Fuquan Edwin and Brian Oliver, SHU turned the seven point deficit into a four point lead late in the half, until a Ted Bancroft jumper pulled PC back within two at halftime, 30-28. Twenty of the 30 Seton Hall points, however, were scored in the paint – without the presence of their big guy in the middle.

In the second half, Seton Hall broke open the tight game with a 12-2 run to grab command of matters with 14:16 remaining, taking a 47-36 lead. Behind the long range sharp-shooting from Oliver, the Pirates pushed the lead to 12 points at 51-39, before the Friars engaged themselves in the comeback. During this stretch, PC missed on nine of 10 shots from the floor, yet pulled within four points at 54-50 thanks to the free throw line.

After Patrik Auda scored on an inside move with 4:08 remaining, the Friar defense clamped down shut on the Pirates, holding them scoreless for the rest of regulation play…and getting foul shots from Bryce Cotton, two layups from Tyler Harris and a driving basket to the hoop from LaDontae Henton to send the game into overtime at 58-all. In total, Providence held SHU to just seven points in the final 12:40 of the second half.

In the first extra period, Cotton connected on his only trey of the game to knot the score at 62 with 2:56 left, but as the Pirates tried to pull away again after Brandon Mobley and Edwin scores, Cotton put his team on his back with a jump shot and two free throws of his own to force a second overtime, tied at 66. Cotton, who played the entire 50 minutes without coming out and scored a game-high 25 points, needed some help for PC to get over the hump.

It never really came. Cotton scored on a jump shot with 1:27 left to put PC back up one at 75-74, then a Carson Desrosiers foul (his 5th of the game) on a Mobley three-point attempt gave the Pirates a two point advantage, after he connected on all of the free throws. Cotton again answered the call on a drive to the basket that drew contact, but the ball was tipped by a Pirate player off of the backboard, resulting in a goaltending call. The subsequent 3-point play seemed to finally give the Friars the edge they needed to win the game.

Two Henton free throws put Providence up 80-77 with 21 seconds left, and SHU’s Gibbs answered with two free throws after he was fouled on a drive with nine seconds remaining. All the Friars had to do was inbound the ball, and hit a foul shot or two for a potential win. Only, that didn’t happen. The inbounds pass was tipped by Seton Hall off of Henton out of bounds, giving the Pirates possession of the ball, down one. Gibbs, playing with four fouls for the previous 14 minutes, drove into the lane and initiated contact with Cotton. Cotton was called for the foul, Gibbs hit the free throws with 3.3 seconds left…and the Friars never got another clean look at the basket, as Harris was called for traveling at midcourt for one, final, excruciating mistake at the end.

“We just didn’t execute the play to get the ball inbounds the way we wanted to, so that’s on me,” Ed Cooley explained. “That is my fault, not the kids’ fault. We’ve just got to do a better job of executing…credit Seton Hall, they executed when they had to.”

A second-straight OT defeat is tough enough, but coming against a rival in the conference opener on your home floor? Doubly tough. It came down to a matter of making plays at the end…SHU made theirs, the Friars made a bunch to get back in it, but not enough to win it.

Welcome back to the Big East.

Friar Notes

Providence falls to 10-4 on the season with the loss, while Seton Hall improves to 10-4. The Friars swept the Pirates for two wins last season, after SHU had won the previous five…PC outscored Seton Hall 19-7 in the final 12:40 of regulation to force the first overtime, as the Pirates could connect on just three of 14 shots during that stretch…Cotton, who led all scorers with his 25 points, hit just 3-of-11 from the floor in regulation but connected on 5-of-6 in the extra periods…Tyler Harris matched his career-best numbers with 22 points and nine rebounds, and Henton added 12 points with seven boards. Kadeem Batts again struggled mightily on both ends, limited to just 1-for-8 shooting and six points, six rebounds before fouling out with 2:35 to play in the second OT…Oliver, a senior transfer from Georgia Tech, led the Pirates with 18 points which included four 3-point bombs (three on consecutive possessions), all from 25-feet or more away from the basket…Mobley added 16 points, hitting five key FT’s in the OT’s. Overall, SHU connected on 14 of 15 from the free throw line in the extra 10 minutes, PC was 7-for-9…the Friars were outshot by Seton Hall 44% to 43% from the floor, but the real difference came in turnovers. Crucial mistakes robbed PC of precious possessions down the stretch, 14 turnovers were turned into 16 Pirate points…the OT loss is the 8th in the last nine overtime games the Friars have played, the one win in the stretch was the season-opener against Boston College…like Providence, the Pirates have battled injuries all season long, with Teague’s injury just the latest in the string…the Friars will face a tough test as they try to rebound from the back-to-back OT losses (including UMass last Saturday) by facing 11th ranked Villanova on the road Sunday in a 7:00 pm tip (6:45 pre-game on 103.7 and friars.com)…


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joe adamowicz

John, how could you neglect to mention what has to be one of the most non-calls I've ever seen: the Fuquan Edwin mugging? Long, long year ahead. Batts is a shell of himself and Fortune disappears as the game progresses.

Wally M

I thought Batts would be the man this year. He had that 15' footer from the top of the key married and fought hard for rebounds. He is simply heavy footed!! Friar defense in the lane has been horrible and the fact that they do not have another ball handler that can score is killing them.

Otto Benson

Only "homer" type fans complain about officiating especially in a game there the refs were cited by most unbiased people as grossly favoring the Friars. The truth is that Seton Hall played a great game and deserved to win it and it was a big, big win for them since road victories are hard to come by. Another season looks to be down the drain for the Friars.

michael manchester

get the ball into anyone , chances are they make at least one of two.never saw a team have so much trouble getting the ball in.hope we have seen the last of the behind the line pass.
there is a lot of standing around during games the rest of these kids use to be the guy in high school do something to help Cotton.maybe to help the legs we could use him less at the front of the press, if we must press as unlike the days of old we don't seam to steal the ball.

Alan Tainsh

Batts doesn't seem like he is even trying. He's the last one down the floor and lately he has hands like Roberto Duran, "hands of stone". He used to have a nice 10-15 foot jump shot now he can't shoot. Is he hurt?

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