“Whatever you can do I can do better,” seemed to be the theme of this game.
Despite the Colonials going 11-for-25 from the three point line, the Friars dominated the rebounds, going 43-18, which proved to be the deciding factor.
Sophomore LaDontae Henton led the team in points, putting up a grand total of 21 for the night. Junior Bryce Cotton was a close second with 20 points and senior Vincent Council had his third double-double of the season with 12 points and 10 assists.
The Friars had a rocky beginning, trailing 9-2 just five minutes into the game. But, when the clock struck 10 the Providence offense started stringing some passes together for a 15-5 point run to take the lead.
With 29 seconds to go in the first half, RMU Coron Williams nailed a long three, only to be answered by Cotton who also hit a three point buzzer beater, tying the game at 34-34.
For the majority of the second half the Friars led with a steady three point cushion until 6:09 left in the game when the Colonials put on an 8-0 run to go up 62-61. The Friars continued the neck and neck theme of this game, steadily swooshing free throws and winning rebounds. The Friars finished 31-36 (86%) from the line.
Before the game could end Cotton decided to go out in style. With just under one minute remaining the junior found himself flying down the court all alone, followed by a profound dunk and an unmistakable salute to his fans. There was time left on the clock, but with the crowd on their feet chanting “Na na na na, hey hey hey, goodbye” everyone in the stadium knew this game was over.
Providence head coach, Ed Cooley finished the night with a light hearted, yet gracious press conference. When asked about the team’s next trip to Waco, Texas Cooley ended the night by saying, “We’d fly to the moon to play. When you play at this time of the year and the ball is still bouncing you’ve got to be really appreciative of that moment.”
RMU head coach, Andrew Toole was equally appreciative of the tenacity shown from both sides.
With the victory, the Friars are headed to the big leagues. The team will take on Baylor Wednesday night in the third round of the NIT in Waco, Texas.