Friars Suffer Heartbreaking OT Loss

Some losses are easier to take than others. West Virginia climbed out of a big hole to force overtime and then stuck a dagger in Providence College and its fans on Super Bowl Sunday.

Coming in off a much needed win over Rutgers the Friars were prepared to face the West Virginia Mountaineers for a noon tip off game. The Friars offense started strong but the Mountaineers found their niche in the second half and, despite a 15 point lead for the Friars, pushed the game into overtime where the Friars lost 87-84 and dropped to 2-9 for the Big East season thus far.

Providence and West Virginia traded blows early, but Providence took a 6-5 lead early in the first half, sparking them to get on an early run which resulted in a 15 point gap in favor of the Friars, 32-17 with 7:12 left to go in the first half.

The Friars packed a punch on both ends of the floor, but West Virginia would chip away at the lead and, with some droughts from the Friars on offense, was able to make it a six point game at the half.

The second half opened with far less of a spark than the first, the Friars now playing not to lose rather than playing to win. The Mountaineers would play catch up and come close numerous times including a 53-51 game with 13 minutes left on the game clock, but Providence would scamper away each time.

With every escape the margin dropped less and less, and with 1:34 left in regulation the Mountaineers tied it up 72 all. It took a late layup from Truck Bryant for the Mountaineers to tie it up 76-76 and force an overtime. Vincent Council missed a three ball at the buzzer, but the bigger tragedy for the Friars came during the last minute when the Mountaineers were forced to foul. Vincent Council and Gerard Coleman both missed crucial free throws that would've iced the game in favor of a Friars win in regulation.

In overtime the Friars and Mountaineers traded baskets before Providence eclipsed West Virginia for a one point lead after LaDontae Henton hit a three ball to put them up 83-82. The Mountaineers answered back with a crucial shot by Deniz Kilicli to bring them back up one, and were then called for a foul on the other end of the floor, sending Coleman to the line.

He only hit one of two to tie the game up 84-all. With the clock winding down in it's final seconds Darryl Bryant hit a crucial three point shot with four seconds left on the clock to put the Mountaineers up, 87-84. The Friars got the ball to Council again but he could not convert a three pointer at the buzzer and the Friars dropped an overtime decision to the Mountaineers.

Once again the Friars had three players playing the full time, with Gerard Coleman, Bryce Cotton, and Vincent Council all logging in 45 minutes of game play. Henton added 42. Coleman led the way in scoring with 30 points on 9-15 shooting, good for 60%. Bilal Dixon lead the team in rebounds with 10, but was unable to get a double double, logging in only 6 points.

Foul trouble put the Friars in a tough spot early, with Kadeem Batts picking up 4 quick fouls in the first and Bilal Dixon getting three himself. As a unit the team shot well, shooting 50% from the field and 73% from the free throw line, while also logging 31 rebounds, one shy of the Mountaineers.

"My team is at a tipping point," said Ed Cooley. "I think you have to be very delicate with the team. My team is 2-9 but you can't go in there and be discouraged with them. They gave a great effort to win the game. They're giving maximum effort. I don't think you go in and be upset with them."

"We've played really well at the Dunk. That's why I love playing in this building. We score a lot of points and shoot well in this building. I feel bad for our fans that we've lost a couple of really close games. These fans have given everything to our kids. They tried to will us to a win."

There's no rest for the ever weary, and after a demanding game that went into overtime, the Friars now have a single day's rest before they take the Villanova Wildcats on the road Tuesday, February 7 at 7:00.

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