PROVIDENCE — There’s a burden placed on Providence’s Bryce Cotton and LaDontae Henton that’s almost unrivaled in terms of their value to the team.
With point guard Vincent Council sidelined, the pressure falls squarely on Cotton and Henton to carry the load. Neither one can afford the luxury of an off night, particularly since there aren’t too many proven scoring options behind them.
For the first 20 minutes of Friday’s contest against Fairfield, Cotton and Henton were non-factors, combining for nine points on 12 shots. The second half proved to be a different story as the Friars rode their two main cogs to a 66-47 runaway performance against the Stags.
Cotton popped for a game-best 21 points on 6-of-13 shooting while Henton’s second-half surge enabled him to net 15. Cotton scored seven points during the opening stanza while Henton managed just a single duce on five shots.
“When you look at our roster and see that only six guys have scored the whole year, that scouting report becomes real easy,” said PC head coach Ed Cooley. “Everybody is keyed in our your guys, but that’s why you need the others to step up.”
Two of those aforementioned Friars – freshman Josh Fortune and junior Lee Goldsbrough – joined Cooley at the podium during the coach’s postgame media session. Cooley praised the hot start Goldsbrough got off to on his way to scoring a career-high nine points while pulling down eight rebounds. Fortune added 10 points and six rebounds in 39 minutes.
“I thought we got contributions from everybody,” Cooley said.
Despite Henton and Cotton struggling to get off the canvas, the Friars never trailed once in the opening half. The Stags didn’t take advantage of the opening as Sydney Johnson’s club shot just 35 percent and allowed nearly as many offensive rebounds (10) as defensive boards (12).
Trailing 14-5, Fairfield pieced together a 12-4 surge with Derek Needham (team-leading 18 points) serving as the primary catalyst. The senior guard swished back-to-back threes to cut PC’s lead to 19-13 with teammates Maurice Barrow and Amadou Sidibe following with hoops of their own to make it a two-point game with just over five minutes left in the opening half.
PC’s Fortune halted Fairfield’s momentum with a much-welcomed trey that made it 23-19. The Stags, who entering Friday had eclipsed the 70-point mark just once in five games, wallowed through a horrendous dry spell to end the half. At one point Fairfield turned the ball over on four consecutive possessions. To make matters worse, the visitors went scoreless over the final 5:10.
A reserve layup by Cotton at the horn enabled the Friars to head into the break up 25-17. The Stags scored the first hoop of the second half before the home team rattled off the game’s next 17 points to go up 42-19 with 12:35 remaining.
The Friars ended up holding the Stags to 35-percent shooting. PC has now held its opponent to less than 40 percent from the floor in five of six games. After popping for 26 points in Tuesday’s 74-71 win against Fordham, Fairfield’s Desmond Wade went scoreless in 30 minutes
“We really concentrated on taking away their back cuts and threes,” said Cooley.
When Cooley took out Cotton with 1:24 left, it marked the first time the junior had been subbed in a game.
“We’ve got some iron men,” Cooley noted.
RIM RATTLERS: After the game, Cooley said freshman Kris Dunn (shoulder) is “a couple of weeks away” while Council’s hamstring is still swollen. … The paid attendance was 6,854.