Providence’s season came to a shocking end in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament Friday night to North Carolina, as the Tar Heels erased a three point deficit with just over a minute left to edge the Friars, 79-77.
The teams came out on fire trading baskets back-and-forth in the first 10 minutes of the half, a pace that ultimately caught up with the Friars, allowing the Tar Heels to establish a lead. However, in the later portion of the first half the Friars started to dictate play, slowing down the game in the half court, a pace that’s proved to be beneficial for the Friars in the past. As a result, the Friars cut their deficit to 39-36 behind 13 points and three assists from Bryce Cotton.
In the second half, it was the Cotton show. He single-handedly shredded apart the Tar Heel defense en route to a 36 point performance, three points shy of Austin Croshere’s school record of 39 in an NCAA Tournament game in 1997.
On the back of Cotton, the Friars established a substantial lead of seven, with Kadeem Batts finally chipping in with two straight baskets under the five minute mark.
But the Tar Heel’s advantage on the glass all game long proved to catch up with the Friars. After a wild drive by Tyler Harris near the two minute mark that was essentially a turnover, North Carolina began their comeback, eventually resulting in a three-pointer by Marcus Paige near the one-minute mark to tie the game at 77-77.
James-Michael McAdoo then grabbed an offensive board on the last possession of the game and got fouled. He hit the first free throw then missed the second, grabbing another offensive rebound and icing the game by drawing another foul in the final seconds.
Cotton had one of the all-time great performances by a Friar in NCAA Tournament history, scoring 36 points to go along with eight assists and five rebounds.
LaDontae Henton also had a solid game for the Friars, scoring 16 points and grabbing 11 rebounds for a double-double.
With the loss, the Friars capped off a season in which they won their first Big East championship in 20 years and made their first NCAA Tournament appearance in 10 years.