Providence won their quarterfinal matchup of the Big East Tournament Thursday afternoon, edging St. John’s 79-74 in a game that many labeled as a “win-and-in” game.
The first half featured 13 lead changes, but despite getting only one point from Bryce Cotton, the Friars took a 36-33 lead into the break. In the opening half, Josh Fortune and LaDontae Henton kept the Friars in the game, scoring 12 points apiece. Kadeem Batts was also a monster on the glass, fighting down low for nine points and pulling down 9 rebounds. Rysheed Jordan led St. John’s in the first half with a game-high 14 points.
In the opening stages of the second half, Fortune couldn’t miss. The sophomore shooting guard had a number of impressive shots, including a fall away three with time running out in the shot clock. Behind Fortune, the Friars built a lead as big as 17 points with Cotton in foul trouble and out of the game.
But when Cotton came back in, the Johnnies decided to turn up their press, forcing Friar turnovers and eventually cutting their deficit to just 67-64 near the three minute mark.
On the ensuing possession, Batts knocked down a big jump shot to end the St. John’s run and put the Friars up by five.
From there, Providence’s free throw reputation stood strong, as the Friars got key free throws from Cotton, Carson Desrosiers, and Fortune to seal the victory.
Fortune led the Friars with a career-high 24 points, while Henton (16 pts, 11 reb) and Batts (13 pts, 12 reb) each recorded double-doubles for the Friars. Desrosiers was also a difference maker, getting big minutes and producing with eight points, 10 rebounds and four blocks.
The Friars will make their first Big East semifinals appearance since 1997 tomorrow at 7 against Seton Hall. The Friars split the season series with the Pirates 1-1. You can catch the game on Fox Sports 1.