College Basketball: PC Tops URI 50-49 in Instant Classic
Thursday, December 05, 2013
KINGSTON, RI-- In the end, all anyone could’ve asked for was for the game to come down to the very last shot.
That’s what happened Thursday night at the Ryan Center, when URI freshman E.C. Matthews was forced into a difficult fallaway from 17 feet, and it came up short.
Providence 50, URI 49.
Another exciting chapter in the interstate rivalry was written Thursday, and it ended with the Friars pulling one out by the skin of their teeth.
Bryce Cotton was solid as usual for the Friars, scoring a game high 15 points. On a night where both teams shot the ball below their seasonal averages in all regards (FG%, 3’s, Free Throws), it was Cotton who came up with big shot after big shot to quell the Rams' runs.
PC frustrated URI’s offense with a clever hybrid defense in the first half, mixing a 2-3 zone with some matchup principles. The Friars took a 29-25 lead into halftime.
URI big man Gilvydas Biruta found some success against the zone in the second half, forcing PC into a more traditional man-to-man defense. Biruta finished 5-for-9 shooting for a team-high 13 points in the loss.
One “highlight” came with about four minutes to go when Friars Head Coach Ed Cooley seemingly took exception to how far off the bench Rams Head Coach Dan Hurley came after a timeout was called on the floor. The two coaches exchanged heated words and finger points and had to be separated by players and officials. Both coaches received technical fouls for their actions.
Tyler Harris had a big tip-in for the Friars at the 2:17 mark to make it 49-46. Biruta made a free throw on the other end, and Matthews tied the game at 49 on a pretty floater with 53 seconds to go.
Kadeem Batts made the front end of a one-and-one at the line with 22 seconds to play, and the Rams wound up struggling to find a look before finally settling for Matthews’ heave at the buzzer.
“I loved the way we fought,” said Hurley. “Probably the only thing I’m disappointed in is the result.”
Hurley said he felt the program turned a corner because of the emotion (and even tears) he saw in his players’ faces after the game.
"This environment was incredible," said Cooley, who said he thinks Thursday’s experience will help his team play a tough Big East road schedule.
URI falls to 6-4 on the season. Rhody’s next game is Sunday at 2 p.m. on the road against Detroit.
PC next plays December 17th at home against Yale. The Friars improve to 8-2 on the year with the win.
Post Game Notes
*Hurley said after the game that he and Cooley have a friendly relationship and their spat was just an instance of 2 emotional guys in the heat of the moment.
*Rams big man Mike Aaman dressed but did not play for the 2nd straight game. He’s been day to day since his appendectomy November 19th.
*URI backup point guard Mike Powell has been suspended indefinitely for a violation of team rules. Powell was not with the team during warmups and sat on the bench in sweats during the game. Biggie Minnis started at the point, and T.J. Buchanan also handled point duties...as did Xavier Munford.
*Kris Dunn continues to nurse his injured right shoulder, re-injured at the Paradise Jam against Maryland. He was not with the team Thursday night due to a death in his family. Dunn's injury is expected to keep him sidelined for the remainder of the season, and it is also expected he will apply for a medical redshirt to retain three years of eligibility.
*PC now holds a 70-56 edge in the all-time series between these two rivals, or 70-54, depending on whose school records you believe. The win Thursday was only PC’s 2nd in 6 trips to the Ryan Center, but it was their 2nd straight at URI, and also their 4th straight overall in the series...the first four-game win streak for either side since PC won four from 1998-2001. It was also URI’s first loss on their home floor this year.
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