Henton Lifts Friars to Road Win

It's not too often that a freshman asserts himself as a the go to guy in a Big East road game, but that's exactly what happened as LaDontae Henton calmly knocked down a 19 foot jump shot with 1.7 seconds left to give the Friars their first Big East road win of the year at DePaul.

This game was shaping up like a number of other Friar games versus Big East competition this season. Providence let an 11 point lead slip away as DePaul tied things up prior to Henton's game winner. It's something that Providence had been lacking for most of the season – the ability to close out teams. Much of the problem can be attributed to a short bench and fatigue. But sometimes, it's simply a matter of guys making big plays late.

"We needed that for ourselves, proving that we can win late in the game. We've had so many close games come down to the same exact possession. The fact that we were able to get over the hump means we're still growing," Ed Cooley said.

Ed Cooley may have found someone who he can count on to close out Big East games - LaDonate Henton.

LaDontae Henton plays older than his age. When you see him play, he looks more like a grizzled veteran. He makes great decisions with the ball, and he's already a lock for the Big East All Rookie team, nearly averaging a double-double for the season (14 pts 8.6 rbs). You'd have to go back to Ryan Gomes (13.8 pts 7.8 rbs) to recall a Friar freshman who's put up these kind of numbers and made this much of an impact, but it's the timeliness of his big plays that is most impressive.

Whether it is answering another team's run with a key three pointer, beating the shot clock for a quick bucket, getting a key block, or hitting the game winner under pressure, Henton seems to be able to do it all with aplomb, as he displayed in the DePaul road win. In fact, one could argue he's Providence's most composed and clutch young player since Eric Murdock put on the Friar uniform and hit a game winning shot in the Carrier Dome.

Getting that type of production out of a freshman has been nothing short of spectacular for first year head coach Ed Cooley. In what has been a meat grinder of a Big East schedule for Providence, Henton has been the most pleasant surprise. While the Friars have received yeoman efforts this year from all of their top six players and some special performances from their standout point guard Vincent Council, it has been Henton who again and again has defied the conventional wisdom that you can't count on freshman to win you games, at least in these parts.

Providence badly needed to end a long 22 game road losing streak in the Big East, and the game at DePaul was their best chance to do it. The game at Allstate Arena was essentially a battle for the basement, an ignominious distinction in a conference that is all about bright lights and NCAA bids. The Friars haven't finished last in the Big East since Gary Walters was coach in the early 80's, and the win over DePaul just about ensures that Providence won't finish last in the Big East, and that's of some consolation right now.

While Providence has had a disappointing Big East record this year, but they've largely lost with their dignity intact. The team plays hard, puts out a better defensive effort than has been seen here in years, and generally takes good shots. They simply don't have enough bodies to win on most nights in a conference that is as much about quality depth as it is star power. It's mostly cold comfort for the fans, but with a top ranked recruiting class arriving next season, the feeling here is that the Friars don't need to replace the entire roster, they just need to add a couple more recruits with LaDontae Henton‘s brand of talent and toughness to turn things around in a big way in Friartown.

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