Friars drop heartbreaker to Pirates in Big East opener

Seton Hall spoiled New Year’s Eve in Friartown Tuesday afternoon, edging Providence (10-4, 0-1), 81-80 in double overtime.

In the double overtime period, the Friars seemed to have things under control, but that didn’t last long. With the Friars up 80-79 and just under 10 seconds remaining, Seton Hall forced a turnover on the inbounds pass, setting themselves up for a shot to win the game.

Texas transfer Sterling Gibbs drew a foul from Bryce Cotton on the ensuing possession, draining two clutch free throws to secure the win for the Pirates.

Providence coughed up an early first half lead, but Ted Bancroft came in off the bench and drained a much needed basket to cut the Friar deficit to 30-28 at halftime.

In the early stages of the second half, it was all Seton Hall, mounting a 57-46 lead.

However, Bancroft hit another big shot, nailing a three to cut the deficit to eight with just over 10 minutes left to play.

After battling back, LaDontae Henton was able to drive to the basket and lay it in with 33 seconds left to tie the game, 58-58, forcing overtime.

In the overtime periods, it was the Cotton show, hitting a number of tough shots and clutch free throws, including two to tie the game at 66-66 to send it to a second overtime.

In the second overtime, the Friars mounted their first lead since early in the first half, but couldn’t hang on.

Cotton, who had a game high 25 points, and Tyler Harris (22 points) put the team on their backs to try and get the win with other key guys struggling offensively.

Ultimately, you have to give credit where credit is due. Seton Hall could’ve easily folded on the road, but never went away even after surrendering a big lead.

Seton Hall’s Brian Oliver (18 points) led four Pirates in double-figures.

It’s undoubtedly frustrating, though, for Friartown. What could’ve easily been 12-2, turns into 10-4 quickly. Providence deserved better in each of those games. One thing is for sure, however, and that’s that this team is always going to battle no matter who they have on the court.

The Friars will return to action Sunday at #11/14 Villanova, a team that the Friars beat twice last season and have matched up well with in the past. The game will tip at 7:00 p.m. and will be televised on Fox Sports 1.

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