Friars blow by DePaul, 84-61
Saturday, February 15, 2014
Often times, the best defense is a good offense.
Not that the defense was bad Saturday afternoon in the Dunkin Donuts Center against the DePaul Blue Demons, because it wasn't. But the offense ran smoothly for much of the game - especially during a 16-0 first half run - as Providence snapped a three-game Big East losing streak with an 84-61 win.
"I've been challenging our players about staying in the moment on our attitude, and reflecting on our opportunity," head coach Ed Cooley said afterward, "and today was one of those opportunities where we lost our last home game - a tough game against St. John's - and we came off a couple of tough road losses and we had to get back on the winning side of things.
"We didn't talk too much about DePaul in preparations as we did about ourselves," Cooley added, "and making sure we were focused in the moment."
That moment came quickly, right after the opening tip. Balance, and some rare bench scoring gave Providence (17-9, 7-6 Big East) a lift, particularly in a first half that saw the Friars connect on 10 of their first 11 shots from the floor. During this time, the Friars also put the Blue Demons quickly in their rear-view mirror with a 23-7 advantage just seven minutes in the contest.
DePaul (10-16, 2-11 Big East) would never get closer than 10 the rest of the game, and fell behind by 23 (49-26) at the half.
Bryce Cotton, as per his usual day at the office, led all scorers with 22 points, 15 of those coming in the first half. But this time out, he had plenty of support. Kadeem Batts (15 points, eight rebounds), LaDontae Henton (13 points, seven boards), Tyler Harris (10 points, six rebounds), Josh Fortune (10 points) and Carson Desrosiers (12 points, five boards, two blocks) all hit double-figures in scoring...the first time Providence has had six players accomplish the feat in the same game since 2009 (in a 110-97 road win at George Washington). For Desrorsiers, it was a career high in a Friar uniform...and he also led a defensive effort that blocked nine Blue Demon shots, the 2nd highest single game total this year.
DePaul actually started the second half with a 9-3 run to pull within 17, and another 12-2 run later pulled the Demons within 14 (72-58) with just 5:44 remaining. But with the game controlled fairly well by the Friars, the Blue Demons could never get closer despite applying full-court pressure for most of the game.
And speaking of pressure, the PC defense forced 12 turnovers for 23 points, outscoring DePaul 23-10 off turnovers...they'll need all of that and a little bit more next Tuesday night when 6th ranked Villanova pays a call.
A good offense will also come in handy there, as well.
Providence shot 64% from the floor in the first half, and finished with 53% for the game, the second best shooting total of the season. The first? At DePaul, two weeks ago...PC also shot 43% from three-point range (6-of-14) and 83% from the free throw line (24-of-29), while out-rebounding the Blue Demons 37-30...Cotton came out of a game for the first time in 11 games for all of 12 seconds at the end of the first half, and then for the final 43 seconds of the second half...for a total of 39 minutes played. Even with the minute off, he still leads the Big East (and the nation) playing more than 39 minutes per game, and he's on the floor for more than 41 minutes in Big East play...senior guard Brandon Young led DePaul with 18 points, while transfer big man Sandi Marcius scored 15...the Blue Demons have now lost eight straight games and 11 of their last 13, getting swept in the season series by PC (77-72 at DePaul February 1st)...the Friar defense allowed just two-of-13 from three for the game...freshman guard R.J. Curington, who burned PC for a career-best 22 points two weeks ago, started the game but ended up playing just five scoreless minutes, and taking only one shot...pre-season 2nd team all-Big East forward Cleveland Melvin was dismissed from school, and the program, last week after an undisclosed program violation...Providence next faces 6th ranked Villanova (22-2, 10-1 Big East) Tuesday night at the Dunk (6:45 pm pre-game on 103.7 FM and friars.com). The Wildcats play at Creighton Sunday, with first place in the Big East on the line...
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