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Game Recap: Providence 76, Yale 74

Providence survives a scare from Yale thanks to four Friars scoring in double digits.

Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

The Friars jumped out to a 32-17 lead in the first half, connecting on their first five three point attempts of the half as it looked like they were well on their way to blowing Yale out of the gym and back over the border into Connecticut. An 18-3 run lead by Yale's Justin Sears, who led all scorers in this one with 31 points on 13-of-16 from the floor, knotting this thing up at half and you could tell not only by the body language of the Providence players, but also by their lack of communication on defense leading to easy Yale layups, that this was going to go to the final minutes.

It was a different Providence team after halftime as once again Ed Cooley was forced to really only use six guys the entire game. After going 7-for-12 from behind the arc in the first half, a 1-5 mark in the second half allowed Yale to hang around and even take the lead at one point. Cooley noted in his postgame press conference that they had worked on their offense over the break and it showed in this one. Solid ball movement and good spacing allowed the Friars to score above their scoring average for the year. The issue was on the defensive side of the ball. The Friars started off with different zone looks and it seemed to be working as Yale was missing early on. However, for the rest of the game Cooley decided to play man to man against Yale and it failed in every imaginable way. Everything from not rotating to losing their man on screens helped Yale continue to get good looks at the rim that should not have happened against a team with such superior size.

Give credit to Yale as they impressed their style of play in this one and it allowed Friar fans to sweat out another victory in a season where they now find themselves 9-2, with a game against Maine before #22/20 UMass awaits them up in Amherst, Mass.

Providence Report Card vs. Yale

Bryce Cotton A- Cotton still managed to score 21 points on 8-14 shooting, while playing out of position as a point guard because they simply have no one else. He was able to dish out 8 assists in this one and give credit to the staff (God Shammgod) for helping him adjust. At times in games this season Cotton has come up limping on occasion, but I did not see that from him last night. Here's to hoping that right knee of his had the chance for some good old rest over the break. Did I mention he played 39 minutes?
Kadeem Batts C+ There was no excuse for him not to have a huge game last night against a Yale team that had no one near his talents on the front line. He did score 10 points, but 4 rebounds is inexcusable and he was lost most of the night when the Friars did not have the ball. He will have to improve on the defensive side of the floor if this team expects to make any noise this year.
Tyler Harris B+ He was the best player on the floor in the first half and led the team in shots going 7-18, good enough for 19 points. I would like to see him settle less and use his size and quickness to go to the hoop that will create more trips to the line for someone who is pretty automatic there. He made the final stop on defense when he stayed straight up against a driving Yale player that caused a turnover that would eventually cost Yale the game.
LaDontae Henton B Like Harris, he made one of the key plays in the game down the stretch. Up just one with under thirty seconds to play, Henton calmly drove to his left and was able to hold off his defender just enough to put in one of his signature southpaw layups that would put the Friars ahead for good. His five offensive rebounds proved to be one of the major differences in this game and he continues to be in all the right spots when the Friars need him most, except for on defense where he continues to struggle with the rest of the group.
Carson Desrosiers B- Being the only 7'0 footer on the floor, 6 total rebounds is not nearly enough especially against an Ivy League opponent, albeit one that could contend for the league title. His limited action, just 19 minutes, was due largely in part to him not getting into any offensive rhythm and because of his inability to get back down the floor on transition defense. There were times when he was trailing the play and his length could not make up for the fact that there were two or three open Yale players under the basket waiting to score.
Josh Fortune C- Pegged as one of the top shooters in the league before the season, Fortune has been a disappointment for the Friars thus far. With most defenses keying in on Cotton from beyond the arc, and now even Harris too, Fortune needs to get himself more involved in the offense and command the ball. He has too pure of a stroke to go just 1-2 from deep in 25 minutes on the floor. Like the others on the team, his defense has been suspect and he continues to have difficulties staying with guards when put in a man to man situation.
Brice Kofane B Ever since Cooley and his staff have brought in more talented big men, Kofane has found himself a permanent spot on the bench and only saw minutes last night for the fourth game all season. He did eclipse his season total of 3 points with a dunk and two free throws and also contributed with two boards of his own. He is a shot blocker on defense and not much more and it will be interesting to see how much time he gets going forward if guys are letting their man go by them and the Friars are looking for a rim protector.
Lee Goldsbrough C Used at times to be a spark plug off the bench on the defensive end, Lee didn't impact the game in any way last night. In his three minutes of action, he did seem to know where to be on defense but looks out of sync with the rest of the squad on offense. He has shown the ability to step back and make an open jumper but his hesitation to shoot or do anything on offense is something this team does not need.
Ted Bancroft C Once a fan favorite, he has also found himself a spot on the bench next to the coaching staff most of the time. Usually relied on for his intensity and willingness on the defensive end, he is someone who could also see more minutes going forward if the team is still relying on a six man rotation come conference play. It is hard to think the Friar guards will be able to play upwards of 35+ minutes of game when they January and February roll around.
Ed Cooley B Finding a way to win a Division I game with really only six guys is always going to be a positive thing, especially against a team who rarely makes mistakes on offense and always seems to make the right pass and be in the right spot at the right time. I do think the team needs to change things up on defense if they want to have any success playing so little players going forward as straight man to man defense would tire anyone, especially having to do it for 30+ minutes a game. I expect him to switch to either match-up zones against teams with a dominant scorer, or just a 2-3 zone that he has put on in the past. They tried to press in the opening stages of the game but it did nothing to speed up the game. On the other side of the press, they had problems breaking that diamond 1-3-1 press that Yale put on at times. Whether that is due to Cotton being a novice running the point in the position or the inability of others helping him out I do not know. He knows his players and will have to adjust to their strengths going forward.