Cotton, Providence defeat Holy Cross 61-42

The Associated Press

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) -- Bryce Cotton's dominant second half powered Providence to a 61- 42 victory over Holy Cross on Tuesday night.

Cotton scored 17 of his 27 points after the break for the Friars (5-2). He and LaDontae Henton, who recorded a double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds, proved too much for the Crusaders (4-3).

Cotton made 9 of 17 field goals and Henton hit 9 of 18. Cotton finished with 5 treys.

''For (Cotton) not to be the Big East player of the month is unbelievable,'' Providence coach Ed Cooley said. ''He's playing as well as anybody in the country.''

However, Cooley added, ''as well as Cotton played today, (Henton) was the player of the game today.''

In addition to his team's strong offensive performance, Cooley highlighted his team's ''defensive dominant performance.'' He said he was particularly impressed with his team considering they are still short on manpower. The Friars have only six scholarship players as a result of injuries and ineligibility.

''I'm more proud of our effort than even our win,'' he said.

Cooley said Cotton was doing a great job leading the team while star point guard Vincent Council recovers from a hamstring injury. ''If there is a more improved player in America, please step up,'' he said. ''What (Cotton) is doing is just unbelievable.''

After a competitive first half, the Friars went on a 14-point run in the middle of the second half, shutting out Holy Cross for 7 1/2 minutes. Cotton led the surge with two 3-pointers and a slam dunk.

The Crusaders' offense fell apart in the middle of the second half as the team missed several layups and shots from inside the paint. Until Holy Cross went on a 10-point run to end the game, the Friars had almost doubled them in points, leading 61-31.

''I thought for 38 minutes we almost played perfect,'' Cooley said. ''That was a circus, the last 2 minutes.''

Holy Cross struggled the entire game from beyond the 3-point line, making only 1 of 20 attempts.

The Friars started the game with an 11-4 run and ended the half with a 30-19 lead. Henton led the way with eight points and seven rebounds.

Dave Dudzinski scored 11 points to lead the Crusaders. Justin Burrell, who came in averaging 11.5 points per game, sagged with a total of six.