It took the Big East scoring champ from a year ago about a half to get it going, but Bryce Cotton got rolling when Providence needed him most. Cotton had just six points at the half when the Friars trailed Boston College by four, but then dropped 22 in the second half and overtime combined leading Providence to an 82-78 victory.
It was a close, hard-fought game throughout with neither team able to gain control at any real point during the contest.
PC entered the game already short-handed with Kris Dunn, their starting point guard sidelined with an injury, and with two players suspended indefinitely – Brandon Austin and Rodney Bullock. It got worse late in the game when three starters – Kadeem Batts, Josh Fortune and Tyler Haris – all fouled out either at the end of regulation or in overtime.
Nevertheless, the Friars prevailed with some clutch plays late in the game from key reserves Carson Desrosiers and Lee Goldsbrough, along with Cotton.
And it also helped that LaDontae Henton had a very LaDontae Henton like game with his usual double double. Henton was solid all night, always out-working the opposition, and finished with 15 points, 13 rebounds and 2 assists.
The other key factor in the Friars victory: they made a whopping 30 of 33 free throws. If you get to the line that many times and convert that many of your free throws, you are going to be in a lot of games.
This is a good win for a Providence program that is trending up, but is currently dealing with some roster issues. A tough loss seemed almost certain at one point in the extra period, but they dug down behind Cotton and made clutch plays late. This could prove to be a bigger win than some realize come March.