Friar Basketball

Dunn Rises, Lifts PC in Monster Comeback Win over Vandy

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It looked like more than just a game was about to slip away from Providence as Kris Dunn lay on the floor in pain midway through the second half. Vanderbilt was putting the finishing touches on a dominating opening 10 minutes to the second stanza after Dunn was sent sprawling to the floor on a layup attempt — a miss that the Commodores turned into a fastbreak opportunity at the other end to push their lead to a game-high 16, at 56-40.

With the Friars out of sorts on offense, and suffering from defensive lapses over the game’s first 30 minutes, a win over Vanderbilt seemed unlikely, and of secondary concern, as Dunn remained down on the baseline for a few minutes just a game after returning from a shoulder injury that threatened to cost him his sophomore season.

Dunn pulled himself off of the court, and lifted the Friars off of the proverbial floor in a furious comeback that saw Providence outscore Vanderbilt 27-4 over the game’s final 10 minutes, carrying PC to a 67-60 win in front of a small, but delirious contingent of Friar fans in the Virgin Islands on Friday night.

Kudos belong to a number of Friars — Carson Desrosiers for protecting the rim early and coming up with two huge baskets late, Ted Bancroft for once again injecting life into a seemingly lifeless bunch, Tyler Harris for making a critical three pointer when PC was shooting blanks, Bryce Cotton for knocking down a pair of monstrous jump shots in the game’s waning minutes, and LaDontae Henton for his go-ahead score with a little over a minute left and game sealing tip-in with 23 seconds to go — but none shined brighter than Dunn, the point guard who seemingly hasn’t missed a beat after sitting out the team’s first three games.

He’s actually elevated his game.

Bancroft is known as this team’s energizer, but to be fair, it’s often the pairing of Bancroft and Dunn that creates 90+ feet of defensive havoc to ignite the Friars. It happened once again tonight.

Few Friars have been able to will this team to victory in recent seasons, but there was a growing sense in the building that Kris Dunn simply was not going to let Providence lose. He’d lost much of his freshman season, there was fear he’d lose all of this one, and he played with the desperation of a player who realized moments like these aren’t a given, but an opportunity.

Dunn had plenty of moments on Friday night. It all began when he was reinserted by Ed Cooley after his injury scare with around nine minutes to play. Then this happened:

  • He bulled his way to the basket and made a pair of free throws in a seemingly desperate situation, pulling PC to within 13 with 8:42 to play.
  • On the next possession he whizzed a terrific backdoor pass to Tyler Harris for a layup. 56-45 Vandy. Interesting, but not yet believable.
  • Roughly a minute and a half later, he once again found Harris, this time for a three ball that ┬ámade it 56-49 with 5:57 to go. Just another PC tease?
  • After Desrosiers came up with a huge three point play to make it 56-52, Vandy was reeling. Dunn and Cotton kept the pressure on, as Dunn found Cotton for another three — this one pulling Providence to within one with just under five minutes to play. The tide had turned. A 16 point lead was cut to one in under six minutes.
  • Two possessions later, with the score still 56-55, Dunn found Cotton for his second straight jumper — a 19 footer to give PC a shocking 57-56 lead at the 3:17 mark.
  • On Vanderbilt’s next possession, Rod Odom hit what would have typically been a typical PC kick to the lower abdomen, a three pointer to take the lead back on the very next possession, 59-57.
  • This was Dunn’s night, however. He found Desrosiers on a slick pass at the rim for a dunk to tie it with just over 2:30 remaining, and after Odom missed a wide open three on a blown defensive assignment, Dunn grabbed the rebound and PC got a layup from Henton on the other end.
  • With PC up 61-59 with under 1:20 left, Dunn broke Vanderbilt’s back. His steal and layup put Providence ahead to stay, 63-59, capping a dominating nine minute stretch from the emerging sophomore.

If you’re keeping track at home, that’s two assists on layups (one tying the game with 2:30 to play), two more on three pointers, another on a go-ahead jumper, a defensive rebound with the game tied in the final two minutes, and a steal and layup to put the game away — all in the final nine minutes.

Not a bad night’s work for the budding star who many feared would not suit up at all this season.

Kris Dunn is back and the Friars are now 5-0 to begin the year.

 

 

 

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