PROVIDENCE, RI– After fighting off a first half run by bringing the game within 3 points at halftime, the Butler Bulldogs were unable to keep the Providence Friars under control in the second. The Bulldogs couldn’t manage a stop during an 11-2 Providence run late in the second half as the Friars handed 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 BIG EAST Conference play.
Four different players contributed to the decisive Providence run. Up 50-47, Providence 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. Butler was only able to counter with a single field goal by senior forward Khyle Marshall. The team effort 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 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. “We couldn’t recover from that time period in the game”.
The Bulldogs did close to within five points, 61-56, on a basket by freshman Andrew Chrabascz with 1:25 remaining, but the Friars closed the door, connecting on 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 guard 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, RI., came off the bench with 8.
The Butler Bulldogs will look for their second BIG EAST victory at home when they host St. John’s on Saturday, Jan. 25. That game at Hinkle Fieldhouse is scheduled for 4 p.m. (ET).
Chris Fultz is a Senior Writer and the Butler Athletics beat writer for the Indiana Sports Report. Chris Fultz is recognized as an accredited member of the media by Butler University Athletics and has full media access.
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