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Friars rip the nets at Butler, 87-81

Monday, February 24, 2014

 

Talk about playing lights out basketball. How about shooting the lights out of old Hinkle Fieldhouse?

Providence and Butler set the nets ablaze inside the historic and legendary home floor of the Bulldogs in the opening minutes Sunday night in Indianapolis, IN. Good thing for the Friars they managed to keep it up for most of the game…because they needed just about every shot to fall. PC held off a big second-half Butler comeback for an 87-81 win to improve to 18-10 on the season, 8-7 in Big East play, with three games left in the regular season.

Coming in Sunday on a five-game losing streak, Butler played like it had very little to lose…which they did. For a program accustomed to annual trips to the NCAA tournament and 20-win seasons, at 12-15 this year (2-13 Big East) the Bulldogs won’t be dancing – barring a Big East Tournament run to a title. Their first year in the conference has had some bumps, but the Bulldogs came out firing away at the Friars by connecting on their first six shots from the floor.

With a 13-9 Bulldog lead in the opening five minutes, Providence pulled out the offensive guns as well – and fired away from long range, surprisingly against the #1-rated 3-point field goal defense in the league. With 7-0 center Carson Desrosiers in the locker room fighting a fever and not available to play in an already-shortened rotation, perhaps the strategy caught Butler by surprise as well. The Friars grabbed control with Bryce Cotton, Tyler Harris and Josh Fortune all hitting from three-point range. Back-to-back three’s by Cotton (28 points, 6 assists), followed by a Fortune trey (14 points, 12 in the first half) put PC up nine with 8:10 left in the half…on their way to a commanding 46-33 lead at the break.

On the road however, especially in the Big East, no lead is safe after just 20 minutes. And Butler proved as much. With the same energy as they began the game, the Bulldogs hit six of their first seven shots to open the half, getting out on a 17-2 run in the first five minutes to retake a 50-48 lead. BU still held a two-point advantage, 61-59, with 10:31 left after a technical foul was called on Cotton…when the Friars began firing away again from outside.

And again, they connected. LaDontae Henton’s trey put PC up 62-61 with 9:56 left, keying a 10-2 run and they wouldn’t trail again. Switching to a 2-3 zone defense slowed the Bulldogs down, and Cotton, Henton and Kadeem Batts (14 points, four rebounds) all had a hand contributing down the stretch. A Tyler Harris jumper with 2:19 remaining finally gave PC the breathing room it needed, putting them up by seven. The nation’s #1 shooting team from the free-throw line managed to convert 10-of-13 in the final 1:26 to grab the road win in their first-ever visit to the legendary Hinkle Fieldhouse.

Thanks to a near-legendary shooting performance from the floor.

Friar Notes

Providence sweeps the season series with Butler in the Bulldogs’ first year as a league member, having beaten BU 65-56 January 21st at the Dunk…Hinkle Fieldhouse, on the National Register of Historic Places and an actual US Historic Landmark, is getting ready for major renovations in the off-season after more than eight decades of use. As many sports fans are aware, Hinkle was long the site for the Indiana State High School Championships, and featured tiny Milan High (161 students) becoming the smallest school to claim a single-class state title, winning the championship in 1954 over Muncie Central that was the basis for the movie “Hoosiers.” Hinkle was the backdrop for the movie, and the surviving members of that Milan team were honored during the game, celebrating the 60th anniversary of their run to the title…perhaps Providence took some inspiration from Jimmy Chitwood Sunday night – shooting a season-best 66.7% percent from the floor for the game, the second-best mark for PC in a Big East Conference contest (PC shot 67.5 in a 1984 win over UConn). The shooting performance marked the first time for Providence to hit 60% or better from the floor since a 2006 win over Rutgers…the Friars also made a season-high 13 three’s (in 20 attempts), good for 65%...as a result, PC finished with a season-low single (as in 1) offensive rebound, and the Friars were out-rebounded 28-20 overall…all five Friar starters finished in double figures (Cotton 28, Henton 15, Batts, Harris and Fortune each with 14), and the only other player to score was Brice Kofane with two points, as he played 11 minutes in place of Desrosiers…Kellen Dunham scored 25 points to lead the Bulldogs, while Khyle Marshall finished with 22. Portsmouth, RI freshman Andrew Chrabascz scored 14 points in 30 minutes, getting his 7th start of the season…with the win, PC moves back within a half game of 3rd in the Big East standings, and will take on Seton Hall Friday night (6:45 pre-game on 103.7 FM and friars.com) at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ. The Pirates upset the Friars in double overtime 81-80 at the Dunk on New Years’ Eve in the Big East opener…

 

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