ROSEMONT, Ill. — Guard Bryce Cotton scored a game-high 28 points as Providence held off a late DePaul surge for a 77-72 Big East victory on Saturday at Allstate Arena.
The Friars (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 at 76-68 on a dunk with 14 seconds to play.
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 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.
DePaul was without three key players representing nearly a nearly 38-point output, including forward Cleveland Melvin (team rules violation), Billy Garrett (unspecified illness) and Charles McKinney (ankle injury).
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 by 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.
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 later 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 forcing a 62-62 tie with 6:59 showing.
Providence replied with seven straight points for a 69-62 lead with 3:23 to play.
The Friars (15-6, 5-3) had won five straight before Thursday’s 61-50 conference loss at Marquette. DePaul was coming off last Saturday’s 86-69 setback at Seton Hall.
NOTES: The teams have met 30 times in a series that dates to 1961. Providence leads 22-8 and is 7-3 in Big East play, but DePaul has won two of the last three. … 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 was 23 points away 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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