Providence had very little chances at winning the Big East Tournament, but persevered and defeated Creighton. Providence had even smaller chances at winning in the second round of March Madness against one of the toughest ACC teams, North Carolina and tried their best to persevere.
Ed Cooley meandered back and forth on the sideline trying to do anything and everything he could to help his squad win against one of the best teams. A costly foul and a missed rebound diminished the Friars chances at victory.
"We feel really, really fortunate, to say the least," UNC Head Coach Roy Williams said. "We were down seven and the kids kept fighting. I talked about how tough we have to be in the last four minutes, and I thought our guys were really tough."
Providence was only ahead at the start of this game and was on a comeback path the rest of time. Unfortunately, none of their attempts were enough to regain the lead and defeat the Tar Heels.
Providence’s star guard Bryce Cotton remarked, "It was a great game, and I knew it would go down to the wire," "It wasn’t enough. I definitely left it all out there, like the rest of my teammates, but it wasn’t enough."
North Carolina came out victorious against Providence 79-77 in a thrilling game at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas.
Providence has overcome so much this season, from injuries to a fire in Ed Cooley’s house, it is amazing how much they have achieved despite all of that. Providence was expected to play well this year, but with the challenges they have faced, no one could predict the accolades they accomplished.
The zone defense worked, like it did in the Big East Tournament Championship Game and they were able to hold UNC to a 26.7 three point percentage. UNC outrebounded Providence 40-26, even though LaDontae Henton, Providence’s best rebounder, played very well. This was by far the key to this game, and it was clear at the end when James McAdoo missed one out of the two free throws, but had an open lane to the basket and grabbed the board.
Bryce Cotton and LaDontae Henton did as much as they could, with strong performances in the game. Cotton in his last game in his college career had 36 points, five rebounds and eight assists. Henton had 16 points and 11 rebounds.
Roy Williams stated, "I’ve coached a long time and had a lot of people play against me, Bryce Cotton played one of the best games I’ve ever seen anybody play against us. My whole thought defensively was what can we do to stop him? He was truly dominating the game."
North Carolina will face Iowa State or North Carolina Central in the Round of 32 this weekend.