Late Providence Run Sinks Bulldogs

Kellen Dunham (Photo by John Fetcho)

PROVIDENCE R.I. -- Host Providence used an 11-2 run late in the second half to take control of the game and hand Butler a 65-56 setback in a BIG EAST game at the Dunkin' Donuts Center on Tuesday (Jan. 21).  The loss dropped the Bulldogs to 11-8 on the year and 1-6 in conference play.

Four different players contributed to the Friars' decisive run.  The home team, clinging to a 50-47 lead, picked up consecutive three-point field goals from Josh Fortune, LaDontae Henton and Bryce Cotton and a short jumper from Kadeem Batts in a three-minute stretch, while Butler was only able to counter with a single field goal by forward Khyle Marshall.

"We came out of the eight minute timeout and Providence hit back-to-back threes.  One was a defensive communication error and the other was a good shot," noted Butler head coach Brandon Miller.

The first two three-pointers, around a lay-up by Marshall, stretched the Providence lead to 57-49.  Cotton and Batts then scored to give the Friars their biggest lead of the contest, 61-49.   

"We couldn't recover from that time period in the game," noted Miller.

The Bulldogs did close to within five points, 61-56, on a basket by freshman Andrew Chrabascz with 1:25 remaining, but the Friars sealed the outcome with four free throws in the final 0:16.

Cotton, the reigning BIG EAST Player of the Week, scored 16 of his team-high 18 points in the second half to help hold off Butler's comeback attempts.  Batts finished with 14 points and 17 rebounds, while Henton and Tyler Harris each added 12.  

The Bulldogs, who trailed 29-26 at halftime, out-scored the host Friars through the first 12 minutes of the final period, but couldn't come up with the go-ahead basket.  Butler hit 12 of 24 shots in the final 20 minutes.

"I do think we executed at a level in the second half that was good enough for us to win in normal games if we could have executed like that throughout the entire game," added Miller.  "But when you go on the road, the bottom line is you have to defend and you have to rebound, and we did not rebound at a level to win on the road tonight"

Providence (14-5, 4-2 BE), coming off a home victory over previous BIG EAST leader Creighton, put on a dominant rebounding performance.  Led by Batts, the Friars out-rebounded Butler, 37-22, including a 13-7 advantage in offensive rebounds.

Sophomore Kellen Dunham led the Bulldogs in scoring with 17 points, but he was limited to just three points in the second half.  Marshall finished with 15 points, and Chrabascz, a native of Portsmouth, R.I., came off the bench with eight points.

Butler will try again to pick up its second BIG EAST victory when it hosts St. John's on Saturday, Jan. 25.  That game at Hinkle Fieldhouse is scheduled for 4 p.m. (ET).