Friars Stun UConn, 72-70

In the final home game of the season the Friars couldn't have asked for a more Hollywood ending. Coming in was a rival Connecticut team looking for a postseason bid to the NCAA tournament, expecting to roll over the Friars to get there. PC was upset minded and not about to lose in front of a crowd of 11,031 on Senior Night, and rallied to silence the Huskies, 72-70.

Not only was Senior Night making this game so special, but it was the ties between the two teams. With Jim Calhoun out, George Blaney took the coaching reigns for the Huskies, while on the other bench, his son, Brian Blaney and former peer, Andre LaFleur sat as Providence coaches. Alex Oriakhi of UConn and Gerard Coleman of Providence both played together before heading to rival schools. Andre Drummond, the touted center that UConn picked up just before the start of the school year, played ball and is close with future Providence point guard Kris Dunn, who was in the crowd to see both his friend and his future team play. When fans talk about rivalry games, this one was as cinematic as it could get.

The game started tough for the Friars, who were down on a 6-0 run by the Huskies, who turned the game into an alley-oop fest early on. After slamming it home three times, Andre Drummond pointed behind the PC bench to Kris Dunn and smiled. This got coach Ed Cooley's attention, as well as the rest of the Friars.

The team woke up and began throwing blows as best they could at the Huskies, including a block by Ron Giplaye that seemed to confuse and stir up Drummond, who at 7 feet was shaken by the tenacity of a 6'6" Giplaye. UConn was able to hold a lead until 10:59 left in the first, when a Kadeem Batts layup tied the game 17-17. From there it was back and forth - LaDontae Henton would hit a three to put the Friars up 21-19, only to have Ryan Boatright weave through the Friar defense and tie the game with a layup.

Tension grew on the court, especially between Bilal Dixon and Drummond, who guarded each other for a majority of the game. UConn put together a small 7-0 run towards the end of the first to lead 32-25 with 1:11 left. The Friars showed fight and answered by closing out the half on a 5-0 run to be down only by a basket, 32-30 on an and-one play by Gerard Coleman.

The second half started tough again for the Friars, with the Huskies going on an 11-1 run to open the first 4:54 of the second half and lead 43-31. Things got no easier as the Friars would fall behind by as much as a 14 point deficit, 51-37, with 12:30 left to go on the game clock. The crowd deflated and UConn fans stood and cheered, seemingly having the win in the bag.

This upset the Friars' team, who responded with a furious run, started by a pair of free throws from Coleman and a layup from Batts, but the crescendo was the three 3-pointers that Bryce Cotton hit to tie up the game 54-all with 8:24 to go. The crowd had adrenaline injected into them and the Dunk erupted. It would be the last time UConn would have a lead for the game. "We had this game completely in control," said George Blaney. "Then they ran some trick plays and we let Cotton free three times."

UConn would fight back as best they could, coming within a basket, only to have the Friars answer back with well executed plays and precision shots that put daggers in the plans of the Huskies. The Huskies bench looked like the air had been sucked out of them, and the players on the floor looked confused. The Dunk shook with excitement. Possibly the play of the game was with 1:01 left and the Friars up five. With a second to inbound the ball and get a shot off to avoid a shot clock violation, the ball was inbounded to Henton deep who pulled the trigger almost immediately. The buzzer sounded at the same time the nets snapped from the ball going in for a three, bringing the Friars up 69-61.

UConn would do its best to rally, coming close after finding some life when Jeremy Lamb hit a three to bring the game within a bucket, 72-69, but it wasn't enough. Bilal Dixon missed the front end of a one-and-one and UConn rebounded and called a timeout with five seconds left. The Friars fouled immediately Shabazz Napier only went 1-2 from the line, intentionally missing the second shot in the hopes to force an overtime, but it wasn't enough. The Friars' own Gerard Coleman grabbed the missed shot and brought the game home for a win on Senior Night over rival UConn, 72-70.

PC out-rebounded bigger UConn, 41-37, including 17-11 on the offensive glass and committed just 7 turnovers against pressure. Batts grabbed 13 boards, while Vincent Council handed off 11 assists and Cotton led with 22 points, followed by Henton's 18 and Coleman's 13.

PC (15-15, 4-13) ends its regular season with one final road trip, this time to South Bend for a clash with Notre Dame.

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