Friar Basketball

PC’s New York Stay Cut Short By Cincinnati

Providence vs. Cincinnati

Just a few short weeks ago Friartown was feasting on a stretch that left the Friars victorious in seven of their last eight games with the NCAA Tournament suddenly within reach. All of that came to a halting stop today as PC fell to Cincinnati 61-44 in the second round of the Big East Tournament.

Looking to bounce back after a disappointing overtime loss to UConn this past Saturday, Ed Cooley’s bunch came out sluggish against a Cincinnati team hungry to strengthen their post season resumé. The Bearcats began the game playing man to man and it was their pressure that both Ed Cooley and Mick Cronin attributed to the horrendous 28% shooting performance by PC. Cooley went so far as to call it “gross” in the post game press conference.

Cincinnati took control of this game and did so early. It took PC 13:56 to finally reach the 10 point mark and at that point, the Bearcats had themselves a 26-11 lead. “Credit Cincinnati’s energy that they came out with, it took us out of some of the things we wanted to do,” said Cooley post game. During that span, Cincinnati stretched the lead to a game high 18 points at the 6:23 mark. Behind a LaDontae Henton layup, Kris Dunn tip-in and two free throws by Kadeem Batts, PC was able to cut the margin to 8 heading into the half.

PC ended the first half shooting 28.1% from the floor which was a result of Batts’ 1-7 shooting, Bryce Cotton’s 3-7 performance and Vincent Council’s 1-6 effort. At times it appeared that the Friars couldn’t toss a grape in the Atlantic Ocean if they tried. The frustration on Ed Cooley’s face was very evident but the strong finish to the half left PC within 8. It was truly a miracle that the deficit was at just 8 points.

Beginning the second half, Cincinnati continued to apply the pressure that was seen in the first half as they pressed PC nearly the entire game. Surprisingly, just 7 turnovers were forced at the hands of the Bearcats. Cronin went on to say “We were just trying to throw body blows and wear them down. We were trying to take their legs, but we are just a better team when we play that way.” Cronin also referenced the loss PC suffered to DePaul on January 5th when the Blue Demons pressed PC nearly the whole game on way to their 83-73 victory.

In the second half, PC was able to cut the lead to 4 following a layup by Bryce Cotton with just over 17 minutes left in the game. Cincinnati was able to extend the lead to 10 shortly there after and PC was never able to get over the hump. Cotton continued to struggle in the second half despite getting a variety of open looks and finished 5 for 17 from the floor including and 0-7 showing from deep. Cooley said after the game, “We had the game right where we wanted it. They scored 60 points. I mean, come on. You’re not going to win many games scoring 60 points”. As valid as that statement is, overcoming the awful start to this contest as well as Cotton’s poor shooting outing, was too much to ask for of this team.

Cincinnati outrebounded the Friars 46 to 40 behind Jaquon Parker’s team leading 10. In addition, Titus Rubles and Sean Kilpatrick both scored in double-figures for the Bearcats. Kadeem Batts led Providence with 14 points and 8 rebounds. Cotton ended the game with 12 points.

Looking ahead, Ed Cooley left the Big East Tournament with strong words for Friar Fans:

“If we don’t play in the NIT, our season is gone. I didn’t come to Providence College to play in another basketball tournament. If the standard is the NCAA, that’s the standard. I think those other tournaments do a great job. I played in one at Fairfield. That’s not where our program is. That’s not downplaying anybody. That’s just my personal opinion. If somebody doesn’t agree with it, that’s just your problem.”

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