DUNN DEFLATES DEPAUL

A major blizzard caused the cancellation of Providence’s Tuesday evening 9 p.m. game against DePaul, but after working with the Big East, Fox and the Dunkin’ Donuts Center, the game went on at 2 p.m. on Thursday afternoon. PC captured an 83-72 decision before a sparse crowd.

It’s not easy to play in an empty arena, but Providence made the best of a bad situation and DePaul, for its part, failed to take advantage of a golden opportunity to steal a road win. The Dunk can be a tough place to play for visitors when the Friar faithful are roaring, but the Demons didn’t have to face that kind of a reception and performed poorly anyway.

THE CROWD: The box score listed 3,568 in attendance, but in a building that holds 12,410, that’s a pittance. Still, not bad considering it was a workday during a week when many had already missed at least one day of work or school.

HOT START: It was imperative, in an arena that lacked atmosphere, for PC to come out ready to play and Ed Cooley sent a fired up Friar squad to the court. PC had 8-0 and 17-3 runs early to grab the lead and they never let go. DePaul came into the game as the Big East’s leading three point shooting team, but could never get untracked as the Friars’ defense kept the perimeter attack under wraps. By halftime, Providence led, 41-23, and was in complete control.

THE HERO: Unquestionably, Kris Dunn had a spectacular game and he was especially potent in the first half as PC grabbed the game by the throat and he had a near triple double. Dunn set personal highs with 27 points, on 10-15 shooting, and 13 rebounds. For good measure, he added 11 assists and 3 steals, for the first Providence triple-double in Big East play and only the 9th in school history.

QUOTABLE: Cooley remarked, “The first 20 minutes were, to me, the game. We played with a purpose and we had energy. Kris dictated the entire game and totally dominated the game, defensively, offensively, rebounding.”

DePAUL’S ONLY ANSWER: The Demon’s hulking center, Thomas Hamilton, did his best to keep DePaul in the game. Scoring 22 points on 7-8 shooting and 6-7 free throw shooting, Hamilton hurt PC inside. However, the Friars’ emphasis on their perimeter defense helped to open things up for Hamilton, who was able to work one-on-one against Carson Desrosiers in the paint. But, as Cooley has stressed, deny the three and give up the tough two, if you have a choice. br>
BALANCE: How often this season has Providence had more than three players in double figures? Against DePaul, the Friars were led by Dunn with 27, and he was joined by LaDontae Henton, who had an off game with 12 on 4-10 shooting, Tyler Harris and Kyron Cartwright, who had 11 each and Ben Bentil, with 10. Cartwright’s total represented a career high and with five players in double figures, the Friars are a tough out.

KEY MOMENT: Shades of Xavier… with seven minutes to play, Providence still led by 15, but DePaul made a final big charge. The Demons cut the lead to 68-60 with 4:06 left. At that point, Dunn hit the shot of the game, a step-back three pointer with just two seconds on the shot clock to restore an 11 point lead. From there, PC never let DePaul get any closer than 9 points.

THE BOARDS: For the game, PC outrebounded DePaul 39-19 and dominated the boards throughout. On the offensive glass, the Friars held a 16-7 advantage and in fact, PC’s 16 offensive rebounds were almost as many as DePaul’s overall total. Along with Dunn, Bentil, Harris and Paschal Chukwu all recorded five or more boards.

SO, WHY SO CLOSE?: So, how does a team get crushed on the glass, see its opponent place five players in double figures and endure one of those opponents hoisting up a triple double and still find itself within 8 points with four minutes to play? Well, for one, PC’s defensive effort lightened up in the second half with the big lead. Coupled with that, DePaul’s marksmen began to find the range from three point land. The Demons shot 64 percent in the second half and scored 49 points and finished the game by connecting on a red-hot 15 of their last 21 attempts. Billy Garrett had 16 points and two other Demons, aside from Hamilton, finished in double figures.

QUICK TURNAROUND: Now PC has to play at noon on Saturday at Madison Square Garden against a St. John’s team that already holds a win over the Friars at the Dunk but has a limping Rasheed Jordan. A quick turnaround but an interesting challenge for the battle-tested Friars, who are now 16-5 overall and, for now, in first place in the Big East, at 6-2.

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