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Big East Tournament: Providence removes any doubt, wins Big East title

Mar 15, 2014, 11:15 PM EDT

cotton Getty Images

During Ed Cooley’s tenure at Providence, just when it seemed as if the program was turning the corner something would go wrong. Whether it was an injury or a suspension, it always seemed as if the Friars were being forced to fight with a hand tied behind their back due to a lack of depth.

But the key for Providence is that they continued to fight, and on Saturday night the program earned a reward in the form of its first Big East tournament crown since 1994. Bryce Cotton, who struggled offensively in wins over St. John’s and Seton Hall, scored 23 points to lead Providence to a 65-58 win over No. 14 Creighton and remove any doubt as with regard to their NCAA tournament prospects.

RELATED: Is your team in the field of 68? Check our latest Bracketology

Cotton’s led the way for Providence all season long, playing an average of more than 40 minutes per game and scoring 21.3 points and dishing out 5.9 assists per contest. But in order for the Friars to win three games in as many days he needed help, and sure enough his teammates stepped forward. Josh Fortune (ten points vs. Creighton) scored 24 points against St. John’s, with LaDontae Henton (nine points, 13 rebounds) going for 26 and 14 in the win over Seton Hall.

With those contributions, along with those of Kadeem Batts, Carson Desrosiers and Tyler Harris, Providence positioned itself to have the star take them home and Cotton did just that.

Providence’s defense was as important as Cotton’s offensive production, as their 2-3 zone limited the Bluejays to 8-for-30 shooting from beyond the arc. Against a team as good as Creighton is offensively identifying shooters is critical, and Providence did a good job of this for much of the night. Rebounding in the zone can be an issue for some teams but it wasn’t for Providence, which limited Creighton to just seven offensive rebounds and won the battle on the boards 32-29.

Doug McDermott, the focus of Providence’s defensive efforts, scored 18 of his 27 points in the second half and the Bluejays were able to pull to within three with 2:29 remaining. But two Batts free throws reestablished the separation Providence worked so hard for, and they were able to make the plays needed to close out the game.

This week wasn’t easy for Providence, but neither was the season as a whole. With limited numbers the Friars continued to fight, never losing sight of their goal. And on Saturday night, the Friars were rewarded for their efforts with a Big East title.

  1. roseann894 - Mar 16, 2014 at 12:07 AM

    Uh, i just googled “Creighton.” It’s in Nebraska.

    If i was a resident of northeastern US which is SUPPOSED to be where the Big East is, I would be pretty disgusted that the conference cannot muster 2 teams within the same time zone to play for the conference title.

  2. luz56 - Mar 16, 2014 at 12:14 AM

    The luster of wining the Big East left a couple years ago.. But a win is a win congrats!

  3. roseann894 - Mar 16, 2014 at 12:51 AM

    Really? Thumbs down for my criticism of the Big East conference extending out to the Great Plains? How bout growing a pair, and explaining why its a good thing?

    • bigmeechy74 - Mar 16, 2014 at 3:39 AM

      Why do you care so much? Are you the geography police? It’s not the Big East’s fault that everyone left to go to the ACC etc for more money. they did a good job of picking up the pieces and making a nice conference

  4. drewzducks - Mar 16, 2014 at 2:09 PM

    Rosie…did you have your granny panties in a bunch over the past 10 + years when WVU and Louisville were in the Big East ? How about Syracuse Virginia Tech and Notre Dame in the ACC ? I guess you were ignorant to the fact that C stands for coast ? Same goes with Utah and Colorado with the PAC 12.

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