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DePaul falls short of Providence

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Updated 12 months ago on
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ROSEMONT, Ill. — Providence wasn’t sure what to expect from shorthanded DePaul and its makeshift lineup on Saturday.

Despite an incomplete scouting report, the Friars still figured out how to solve the Blue Demons and secure a 77-72 Big East victory at Allstate Arena.

“(DePaul’s) reserves really played great,” Providence coach Ed Cooley said. “They were playing desperate, they played great and we were fortunate to make some shots late.”

DePaul was without three key players, representing nearly a 38-point output, including forward Cleveland Melvin (team rules violation), Billy Garrett (unspecified illness) and Charles McKinney (ankle injury).

Friars’ guard Bryce Cotton, meanwhile, stepped up with nine late points as Providence (16-6, 6-3 in the Big East) hit 8-of-10 free throws in the final 3:23, including seven from Cotton, to keep DePaul at bay.

Cotton put the game out of reach, 76-68, on a dunk with 14 seconds to play and closed with a game-high 28 points.

Forward LaDontae Henton had 19 points, while forward Tyler Harris added 18 as the Friars won for the sixth time in seven games.

Guard R.J. Curington scored a career-high 22 points as DePaul (10-12, 2-7) suffered its fourth straight loss. Tommy Hamilton IV had 13 points, while guard Brandon Young added 12 points and a season-high nine assists.

Providence opened a 16-point first half lead, but it didn’t last, as DePaul used late 3-point shooting from Curington and Forrest Robinson to cut the deficit to 42-37 by halftime.

It might have been even closer had Hamilton’s inbound steal with 1.3 seconds left and layup counted. He narrowly missed a buzzer-beater.

The Friars shot 71 percent (10-of-14) in the game’s first 8:19, including 3-of-5 on 3-pointers, to open a 23-10 lead.

“Obviously we dug ourselves a hole early in the game with turnovers and coming up empty with the missed layups and free throws,” Blue Demon coach Oliver Purnell said.

“But our guys kept battling and got themselves back into it, kind of sprinting into the half.”

DePaul crept back and cut the deficit to 32-24 on Curington’s baseline 3-pointer with 3:20 showing. He hit another with 44 seconds left, while Robinson connected on a 3-pointer with two seconds showing.

Curington closed the first half with 14 points while DePaul shot 12-of-19 (41.4 percent).

DePaul closed to 42-41 early in the second half on Curington’s layup, but Providence replied with a surge that built the lead to 57-46 lead on Harris’ two free throws with 13:53 left.

That lead vanished over the next seven minutes. DePaul guard Edwind McGhee hit back-to-back 3-pointers, the second creating a 62-62 tie with 6:59 showing.

“I thought we played very well down the stretch until about the last four minutes,” Purnell said. “(But) we didn’t do a good enough job on Cotton, who’s obviously a very good player.”

Providence replied with seven straight points for a 69-62 lead with 3:23 to play.

“I thought our experience really showed down the stretch with our poise,” Cooley said. “(DePaul) made two really big runs, really big runs. And we were fortunate to hold on. I was proud of our poise and composure.”

After a hot-shooting first half, Providence went 8-of-19 from the field in the second (42.1 percent) and closed at 25-of-47 (53.2 percent for the game).

DePaul was 23-of-55 (41.8 percent) for the game.

Purnell said he was unsure if McKinney and Garrett would be available by Monday, while Melvin’s suspension is ongoing.

NOTES: The teams have met 31 times in a series that dates to 1961. Providence leads, 23-8, and is 8-3 in Big East play. … Friars guard Bryce Cotton earned Big East Player of the Week honors this week after averaging 21 points and seven assists over two games. … DePaul guard Brandon Young is 11 points from passing Stephen Howard (1,691 points, 1988-92) for seventh on DePaul’s all-time scoring list. … With three key players out for DePaul, forward Greg Sequele earned his first career start. … Georgetown is at DePaul on Monday, while Providence hosts St. John’s on Tuesday.

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