Friar Basketball

Rapid Reaction: PC Beats Butler, Wins Fourth Straight


Rapid reaction to Providence’s 65-56 victory over Butler on a snowy night at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center.

How the game was won: For the second straight game Providence was far more physical than a Big East newcomer, as this time they bullied their way past Butler behind a balanced scoring approach (four players in double figures led by Bryce Cotton’s 18) and a punishing effort on the glass. The Friars grabbed nearly twice as many rebounds as Butler (24-15) and dominated in points in the paint (32 for the Friars) for their fourth straight victory.

Kadeem Batts had his way on Tuesday night, pulling down a career-high 17 rebounds to go along with 14 points.

The turning point: After connecting on just two three point field goals over the game’s first 33 minutes, Providence caught fire from deep. A one possession game was blown open as PC connected on three straight shots from deep — a corner three from Josh Fortune, a make from LaDontae Henton from the opposite corner, and then a third as Cotton knocked one down with the shot clock expiring. Batts made a deep jump shot to cap an 11-2 run to put PC ahead by 12 with just over four minutes to play to put this one out of reach.

Batts’s career night on the glass: You wouldn’t have guessed it by watching tonight, but Kameron Woods entered this one as the Big East’s leading rebounder; yet it was Batts who controlled the glass on both ends. The redshirt senior topped his previous season high in boards (11) in under 30 minutes, and ripped down seven offensive rebounds on a night in which the Friar offense was sluggish until the three point explosion.

The double double was Batts’s fifth of the season, and marked his fourth straight solid effort — all Friar wins, not coincidentally. Batts has 35 rebounds over the last three games. Woods finished with just three rebounds.

Locking down Dunham: Butler guard Kellen Dunham entered this one the third leading scorer in the Big East, and started out on fire, making a three on the game’s first possession and scoring 14 points in the first half. The Friar defense tightened over the final 20 minutes, holding him to just three points in the second half.

Rhode Island return: Although he battled through foul trouble, Rhode Island native Andrew Chrabascz was a big factor in the second half, scoring on a pair of pretty post moves. He made all three of his field goals and finished with eight points before fouling out in just 13 minutes.

What it means: Now 14-5 overall and 4-2 in the Big East, the Friars are rolling. What looked like a season on the verge of slipping away after three straight losses three weeks ago is now one of renewed promise. Cotton has transformed himself into a steady point guard capable of balancing his own offense with that of his teammates, and Ed Cooley is getting timely offense from Henton, Fortune and Tyler Harris. Henton, in particularly, has provided a major lift from deep, making nine three pointers (on 17 attempts) during the four game winning streak.

Cooley has to be thrilled with the play of the resurgent Batts, who would have even bigger numbers during the four game run if not for foul trouble. He played just 23 minutes versus Creighton and still had 13/9, his 21 points against Georgetown came in 28 minutes, and he put up tonight’s massive stat line in part because he was simply able to stay on the floor (39 minutes).

This all sets up for a terrific Saturday afternoon of basketball at the Dunk. The Friars have handled both Creighton and Butler, and will look to sweep this three game newcomer home-stand against Xavier in a noon start. The Musketeers are 5-1 in the Big East, just a game ahead of the Friars.

The Dunk should be live for this one.

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