PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Bryce Cotton scored 24 points, hitting five 3-pointers, to boost Providence to a 62-59 win over St. John’s on Saturday night.
Nineteen of Cotton’s 24 points came in the second half, with none bigger than his made three pointer as he was fouled with 3:46 remaining, giving the Friars a lead they would not give up for the rest of the game.
“We definitely got on Cotton’s shoulders,” said Providence head coach Ed Cooley. “[He was] nicknamed “The Glove” today, the stopper.”
St. John’s biggest deficit in the second half was only three points, but they failed to make a shot from the field for the final 4:30 of the contest.
“Providence got more rebounds and they made more shots and had enough to get over the top,” said St. John’s head coach Steve Lavin on his team’s performance.
Lavin was still enthused with his team’s effort following a close conference loss.
“I couldn’t be prouder of my kids,” said Lavin. “They played with cohesiveness. They battled. We just lost.”
Although Providence has now won six of their last seven games, coach Ed Cooley said that his team needs to strongly improve on their free throw shooting if they hope to continue there recent success.
In a joking manner Cooley uttered to his star point guard, “How did you miss two free throws. That’s unacceptable; that’s piss poor.”
Cooley may have deserved some criticism for missing free throws, but all joking aside he understands how important these last few games have been for his team.
“We’ve had a sense of urgency,” said Cotton. “We knew we had our backs to the ropes and we were either going to respond to the call or fold.”
St. John’s freshman Jakarr Sampson kept his team in the game as he lead the Red Storm with 22 points on the night.
Ed Cooley was the top supporter of Sampson after the game proclaiming, “I thought we played against the rookie of the year in the league.”
Steve Lavin returned the kind words, as he had nothing high praise for the Providence coach, saying, “In my book he’s the Big East coach of the year in a runaway.”
Trying to find a key-determining statistic for the Providence win may lead you to St. John’s making only one three-point shot all night.
Ed Cooley thought other reasons might have led his team to victory, stating, “God gave us that win. We were supposed to win today.”
St. John’s and Providence now both stand at 8-8 in Big East play this season.
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