Friar Basketball

Friars Start Slow, Fall to Marquette

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Providence nearly dug their way out of a 19 point hole in the second half, but a woeful opening 20 minutes was simply too much to come back from as the Friars saw their five game winning streak snapped at the Bradley Center on Thursday night.

Marquette defeated PC for the tenth straight time, and upped their all-time home record to 8-0 against Providence, so the 61-50 loss wasn’t a surprise, but Ed Cooley’s group will walk away from this one knowing they let an opportunity pass.

Marquette’s physical defense has tormented Providence from the time the Golden Eagles joined the Big East, and it looked like this was going to be yet another long night in Milwaukee.

The first half numbers were downright ugly for PC:

5-28 shooting from the field.

1-10 from three point range.

A starting frontcourt that combined to shoot 0-13, with five of the Friars’ 11 turnovers.

At the break Providence trailed 31-14, and when Josh Fortune lobbed an inbounds baseline pass that led to a steal an easy layup in the early minutes of the second half, it looked as though this one was going to get ugly — yet PC wasn’t done battling.

After a Marquette dunk made it 37-18 with roughly 17:30 remaining, Providence ripped off a 16-0 run, sparked by LaDontae Henton who connected on a pair of traditional three point plays to bring PC to within a possession with 11:30 still to go.

Henton played an inspired second half, scoring all 18 of his points after the break, but on a night in which Buzz Williams’ group seemed determined to keep Bryce Cotton from beating them (Cotton grinded his way to a 20 point night with former high school football star Derrick Wilson attached to his hip), the Friars just didn’t get enough support from the rest of the core to complete the comeback.

Aside from Henton and Cotton, Providence’s starters combined to make just 3 of 22 shots from the field.

The loss highlighted PC’s achilles heel this season — the head came off the snake. As was the case against Villanova, the Friars ran into an opponent that had the bodies and athleticism to make Cotton work just to get the ball, not only making life difficult on the point guard, but taking almost every other Friar out of the game with him.

The most positive development out of his one was the continued strong play of Henton, who has entrenched himself as the #2 scoring option on this team. Outside of Cotton, Henton has been, by far, the most consistent Friar in 2014, and his 18 point second half was not only an example of his consistency, but his willingness and capability to match a truly physical opponent. Ed Cooley called Henton “the toughest player I’ve ever coached” in a recent appearance on Friars All Access¬†and Henton showed why in leading a team that seemed flustered for much of this one.

The Friars have often been bullied by Williams’ group, and things appeared headed that way once again on Thursday night, but Henton nearly willed this team to a huge comeback victory on a night in which his teammates were out of sorts.

Providence (15-6, 5-3) is off Friday before returning to action Saturday afternoon with another road game at DePaul.

Email Kevin at kevin.farrahar@friarbasketball.com

Twitter – KevinFarrahar

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