It took 20 years but the Friars are back in the Big East Tournament Title Game
Ryan Fox ---@Spider_Fox87
It’s that time of the year for Big East fans, the Big East tournament. However this year’s tournament will be without the familiar faces of ghost pasts (Syracuse, UConn, Louisville, etc.). But then again, if you’re a Providence College (PC) Friars fan then the time is now to get that Big East crown. Going into the Big East Tournament, the Friars needed to win the tournament or at least have a strong showing to make a case to make it to the Big Dance in March.
Last Thursday, things kicked off in the Big East. In their first match up, the Friars were able to hold off the Red Storm of St. Johns 79-74. At the end of the game, PC fans tuned in to see the Big East Divisional Champions Villanova Wildcats take on the #8-seed Seton Hall Pirates. As if the NCAA Basketball Gods were listening to the prayers of Friar nation, the Pirates were able to get a big time upset over the Wildcats, 64-63 on a buzzer-beater last shot. So Friday night, the second round of the Big East Tournament pitted #4 PC against #8 Seton Hall.
Going into the second round of the Big East Tournament, the PC Friars squared off against Seton Hall. At first, it looked like PC was going to run away with it when they went up 12-0 in the early goings of the game. Though the Pirates kept cutting into the lead, the Friars still kept making their shots. At one point the lead was at 11 mid way through the first half (25-14). However Seton Hall was able to cut it close to 38-31 before getting a last second 3-pointer before halftime to make it 38-34.
In the first half, PC guard Bryce Cotton, the man of the hour and PC’s top scorer, just had 9 points on 3-of-7 shooting. Instead, the one carrying the Friars was actually big man forward LaDontae Henton. Henton also had 15 points on 5-of-7 from the field, including 4 points from the charity stripe to go with a team-high 6 boards.
The offensive explosion continued on in the second half as the two teams combined to score 82 points. However it was all in PC’s favor. Seton Hall kept coming close, going on various scoring runs including a 9-1 run around the 13 minute and 23 second mark to bring the game within a single point. But then the Friars got off 5 quick points to pull away. The last time Seton Hall made any threat for the lead came with 8.7 seconds left to make the game 78-74. But then the Pirates missed a key basket while PC guard Josh Fortune made two final free throws to seal an 80-74 victory.
In the 8-man rotation of PC, 4 players played for over 30 minutes including Henton, Fortune, and Cotton playing the entire 40 minutes of the game. Henton continued his high-octane first half performance and ended the game with 26 points and 14 rebounds (both were game-highs). Cotton pitched in as well, finishing up with 18 points and a game-high 10 assists while forward Tyler Harris was the only other Friar to score in double-digits with 17.
Now the PC Friars are set to take on the #2 seed Creighton BlueJays in the tournament title game. This will mark the first time since the 1994 Big East Tournament where the Friars been in the title game. That Big East Tournament also marked the last time the Friars won it all. If the Friars win, they automatically get into the Big Dance for the NCAA Tournament. Interestingly enough, this will be the 3rd Big East opponent that the PC Friars have faced that they split the series so far (PC won against 81-68 against Creighton on January 18th at home while Creighton took the second game at home on March 8th 88-73).
It’ll be a tough game no doubt. But with the finish line in sight for the young men in black and white, you can bet that they will give 110% and will leave everything out on the court.
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