PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP)—LaDonte Henton scored 24 points to lead Providence past New Jersey Institute of Technology 64-63 Saturday in the season opener for both teams.
Bryce Cotton added 21 for the Friars despite going scoreless for the game’s first 13 minutes. Providence starting point guard Vincent Council was injured 5 minutes into the game and did not return.
Coach Ed Cooley said Council will have an MRI Sunday, and indicated that he is unlikely to play in the Friars’ upcoming matchup against Bryant on Monday.
The Friars are now down to just six academically eligible scholarship players, with Cooley describing his team as “the walking wounded.”
With Council out, Cotton was forced to take over as the floor general for Providence.
“I knew I had to work on my ball-handling,” Cotton said. “That was a major focus over the summertime.”
The game started out sloppy for both teams. Providence shot 3 for 14 from 3-point range, and the Highlanders tallied nine turnovers.
Providence came out firing in the second half, establishing a double-digit lead midway through. Chris Flores and Ryan Woods combined for a 15-5 NJIT run later in the half, giving the Highlanders a 63-62 lead.
Cotton knotted it up at 63-63 with a free throw with 2:19 to go.
Neither team scored again until the last minute, when Flores fouled Bryce Cotton, sending him back to the line with 5 seconds left. Cotton hit one of two to put the Friars up for good.
Flores finished with 28 points and Woods 19, each tying career highs.
Brice Kofane came off the bench strong for Providence, contributing nine rebounds, three blocks and two steals. Cooley described his performance as “one of the best games he’s had at Providence College.”
Walk-on Ted Bancroft also came off the bench for 11 minutes for the Friars, a reflection of just how thin the Providence bench has become. Last year Bancroft appeared in just nine games and totaled only 27 minutes for the season.
Providence struggled mightily from 3-point range as a team, going 0 for 7 in the second half and shooting 14.3 percent (3 of 21) for the game.
After starting his Providence career strong with 23 points in last Saturday’s exhibition game, Josh Fortune struggled, scoring two points and going 0 for 5 from 3-point range.