Gamecocks fall to Friars
LaDontae Henton scored 18 points and Vincent Council and Gerard Coleman had 16 points each as Providence pulled away late to defeat South Carolina 76-67 in the Big East-SEC Challenge on Thursday night.
The Friars (6-2) used a 14-4 run late in the second half that featured a four-point play from Bryce Cotton to take control.
South Carolina (2-5) had cut an 11-point lead down to 51-47 on Brian Richardson's three-point play with 8:54 left when Providence got going. Coleman started the clinching rally with a pair of foul shots before Cotton struck for a 3-pointer from the top, left side of the basket and was fouled by Anthony Gill.
The game marked the return to the Gamecocks basketball team of point guard Bruce Ellington, who had been playing with the South Carolina football team.
Providence finished with five players in double figures. Cotton had 15 and Bilal Dixon 10. Henton also added eight rebounds and was a perfect 3 of 3 on threes.
The Friars have won two straight since their only two defeats, to Iowa State and Northern Iowa at the South Padre Island Invitational over Thanksgiving weekend.
Malik Cooke led the Gamecocks with 21 points and Eric Smith, the team's point guard during Ellington's absence, had 16.
Ellington ended with six points on 3-of-11 shooting.
South Carolina had hoped to use Ellington's basketball homecoming to rally the team after losses to formerly top-ranked North Carolina and Southern Cal at the Las Vegas Invitational last weekend.
But Ellington started as slowly as everyone else on the Gamecocks, who opened the game shooting 3 of 15 from the floor.
Providence was there to take advantage behind Council's crisp play. The junior guard from Brooklyn, N.Y., had 11 first-half points to push the Friars to a 34-27 lead at the break.
Ellington wasn't in the starting lineup but entered after about 3 minutes to chants of ''Bruuuuuce'' from the few thousand at Colonial Life Arena. Ellington, who averaged 12.8 points a game as a freshman, notched his first points this season on a jumper late in the half and finished 1 of 4 shooting in the first 20 minutes.
Then again, it might've taken a perfectly tuned Ellington to keep the Gamecocks in this one in the first half, as the Friars led by as many as 11 points after Council's driving basket with 4:22 to go.
Providence wrapped things up with its late run. After Cotton's four-point play, Council added a foul shot and a jumper and Henton a three-point play. Coleman finished the run the way he began it with a pair of foul shots.
The Gamecocks struggled with their shooting touch throughout. They shot just 36.1 percent and were only 6 of 30 on 3-pointers.
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