Friar Basketball

Charting Henton’s Big First Half Against NJIT

Henton

LaDontae Henton carried Providence when the team, and the home crowd, need a lift.

The Dunkin Donuts Center crowd was stunned when All-Big East point guard Vincent Council went down five minutes into the season opener with the Friars trailing by a point.  Nine seconds later Henton connected on a jump shot to put the Friars ahead 6-5.

It was the first of several big shots Henton hit to keep Providence afloat when the wind had been taken out of sails of seemingly everyone in the arena.

Trailing 13-8 with just over eight minutes gone in the first half, Henton hit his only three pointer of the afternoon to pull PC to within two.

After NJIT sharpshooter Ryan Woods countered with a three ball of his own Henton connected on shots on consecutive possessions to keep PC close at 17-15.

The Friars took their first lead in over nine minutes when the sophomore forward knocked down a pair of fouls shots (he was a perfect 7-7 from the line on the day) to make it 25-23 in favor of the Friars, and when NJIT followed with a mini 4-0 spurt to pull ahead 27-25 with 3:40 left in the half, it was Henton once again stepping up in the absence of Council, converting a layup while getting fouled and then dunking home a lob from Bryce Cotton to make it 30-27 with just over two minutes left.

Where would Providence have been without Henton carrying the offensive load early?  He made seven of the team’s 11 field goals and three of their seven free throws in the opening stanza — good for 18 of the team’s 32 first half points.

It was a mature effort from a player one game removed from his rookie season.

 

Second half slowdown

Perhaps not coincidentally, when Henton’s offense slowed, the Friar offense grinded to a halt in the second half.  His only second half field goal came after he grabbed a steal and converted just 12 seconds in — giving Providence a 34-29 lead.

After the 18 point first half explosion, it looked as though Henton might go for 30 at that point, but he managed only four more from that point on — all from the free throw line.

His final points made it 51-41 Providence with 12:30 left in a game that appeared to be slipping away from the Highlanders, but the Friar offense went stagnant.

As the Providence Journal’s Kevin McNamara pointed out after the game, the Friars went without a field goal over the final seven minutes of the game, scoring four points on four foul shots during that time (two by Kadeem Batts, two from Cotton), but managed to hold on late by tightening defensively, as NJIT went the final 4:17 without a made field goal themselves.

Perhaps the best defensive play came from Henton who recovered to block a mid-range jump shot with just over a minute on the clock in a tie game.

With Council shelved, it will fall on Henton and Cotton to carry this offense, and in the first half, when things looked bleak, Henton hoisted the Friars on his back.

“LaDontae carried us in the first half,” Ed Cooley shared afterwards. “I expect that from LaDontae.  That should be every night from him.  He played well, but I expected that.”

 

Email Kevin at kevin.farrahar@friarbasketball.com

 

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