Story Highlights include:
- Craig Belhumeur postgame with Ed Cooley
- Friars forced 25 turnovers, score 30 off of TOs
- Cotton’s diversified offensive game on display, Council finding the range late
- Video of Jay Wright and Cooley post game press conferences
This was one that had all the makings of a game destined to send Providence’s season into a tailspin. Losers of six of their last seven, including four of five in Big East, the Friars appeared primed to fall to 1-5 in conference play after suffering through their second straight subpar first half.
On Wednesday night PC fought to get back into a road game against Georgetown after falling behind by 19 at the intermission. Saturday was more of the same offensively.
Just how badly did Providence struggle against Villanova in the first half? The Friars missed all but one of their 10 three point attempts, got to the free throw line 20 times only to miss nine of those, and they combined as a team to make just six field goals over the game’s first 20 minutes. Not exactly a recipe for success.
Providence went nearly seven minutes without a field goal to close the half until Vincent Council converted a layup to bring PC to within seven at 31-24 at the break.
Being within seven felt like a victory for Ed Cooley’s bunch. They’d shot just 20% as a team, allowed Villanova to shoot at a 47% clip and forced only one more turnover (9-8), but the Friars gang rebounded, keeping Nova from grabbing an offensive board, while holding a 24-17 advantage on the glass. A testament to their group approach to rebounding, six different Friars had at least three rebounds in the first half, with all six grabbing at least one on the offensive end.
The rebounding differential, combined with a 20-8 advantage in free throws attempted, kept Providence in it early – and it didn’t take long until they capitalized in the second half.
An 11-4 spurt out of the break, led by an attacking Bryce Cotton, tied the game at 35 four minutes into the second half. Cotton, who afterwards told Cooley that Saturday’s game was his worst shooting effort at Providence, was a mere 2-8 from the field in the first half, 1-7 at the three point line.
A year ago Cotton would have been taken out of his game if he was a non-factor from the outside, but he’s diversified his offensive arsenal and can beat you in other ways now. While making just one three pointer in the second half, Cotton led Providence to a 69-66 victory by scoring 17 over the game’s final 20 minutes.
His three aggressive scores early swayed the tide of the game, and his trifecta with just over a minute to play gave Providence their biggest lead of the game at 63-57.
While Cotton once again led the Friars in scoring, Council made big shot after big shot in the game’s final seven minutes.
Like Cotton, Council stumbled through a 1-6 first half. PC trailed 47-45 with seven minutes remaining when Council put the Friars on his back, scoring nine points over the game’s next three minutes – capped by a jumper with 3:57 remaining to give Providence the lead, 56-54.
While the offense struggled early and the Friars managed to bounce back and shoot 50% in the second half, defense was the story of the game for Providence.
The past month has been marred with inconsistent, and at times downright ugly, defensive basketball by PC, but Providence effectively pressured a green Villanova backcourt 94 feet, resulting in a whopping 25 Wildcat turnovers and a game-changing 30-6 advantage in points off of turnovers.
On a night in which PC shot just 2-14 from three point range, connected on only 33% of their field goals, and somehow managed to miss 19 foul shots, they earned their second conference victory on Saturday afternoon behind a defense that seemed to energize their offense.
Too often in recent seasons it was the opposite – the Friars were a team that looked to score first, defend second, but this group has had its struggles offensively, needing the defense to spark their O.
No Friar stood out defensively more than Kris Dunn. Dunn first showed glimpses of becoming a defensive weapon when Providence pressed out of desperation against DePaul. We saw signs of an effective press Wednesday against Georgetown and Saturday showed how vulnerable an inexperienced group of guards can look against Providence when being picked up the full 94 feet. It’s been quite a while since teams have consistently thrown the ball away in the face or Providence pressure, but that is what we saw Saturday.
Cooley likes what he’s seeing from his defense, “I Iiked our style of play today. We are slowly getting to the style I want to play. I think our guys are buying into it more when you look at the pressure that we are putting on the ball – 25 turnovers today against a really good basketball team. I like that style but you need numbers to do that. I want to stay aggressive. If you are aggressive you have an opportunity.
“I thought our defense carried us today.”
He continued, “This was a long game. A hard game.
I am really proud of our guys.”
* * *
After the game Friarbasketball’s Craig Belhumeur caught up with Cooley to get addition thoughts on the game. In the video below Craig recaps the Friar win and looks ahead towards Pittsburgh. This video also includes highlights from Jay Wright and Cooley’s press conferences.
|Mouphtaou Yarou, F||13||0-5||0-0||0-0||1||1||0||0||0||1||3||0|
|Daniel Ochefu, F||26||3-5||0-0||2-4||1||3||0||0||1||3||5||8|
|James Bell, G||20||1-6||1-6||0-0||1||3||1||0||1||2||4||3|
|Darrun Hilliard, G||34||4-10||2-4||4-5||1||3||0||1||0||2||3||14|
|Ryan Arcidiacono, G||26||3-6||0-2||4-4||0||1||4||0||0||5||4||10|
|Maurice Sutton, F-C||17||1-1||0-0||4-6||2||6||1||0||2||4||2||6|
|Tony Chennault, G||21||1-5||0-2||0-1||0||3||3||0||0||4||3||2|
|JayVaughn Pinkston, F||24||8-10||1-1||3-5||0||4||0||1||1||1||5||20|
|Achraf Yacoubou, G||18||1-1||1-1||0-0||0||7||0||0||0||1||3||3|
|Mislav Brzoja, G||1||0-0||0-0||0-0||0||0||0||0||0||1||0||0|
|Kadeem Batts, F||31||2-7||0-0||3-7||3||7||1||1||1||3||5||7|
|LaDontae Henton, F||28||1-7||0-3||4-4||3||7||0||1||0||0||4||6|
|Vincent Council, G||27||4-9||0-1||7-10||1||3||5||2||0||2||5||15|
|Bryce Cotton, G||39||7-16||2-9||8-11||0||1||0||2||0||0||1||24|
|Kris Dunn, G||35||3-10||0-0||7-10||2||7||1||2||0||4||4||13|
|Lee Goldsbrough, F||4||0-0||0-0||0-0||0||0||0||1||0||0||1||0|
|Ted Bancroft, G||1||0-0||0-0||0-0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Sidiki Johnson, F||19||2-5||0-0||0-6||4||7||0||2||2||2||2||4|
|Josh Fortune, G||16||0-2||0-1||0-0||2||4||0||1||0||1||1||0|
Technicals: 1 PROVIDENCE ( K Dunn 1 ) VILLANOVA ( )
Officials: Robert Riley, Mike Roberts, Gary Prager
Email Kevin at email@example.com