Providence guard Bryce Cotton managed 24 points, and backcourt mate Gerard Coleman contributed 18 points, eight rebounds, and six assists. Coleman has scored in double figures in all seven of the Friars’ games this season.
The meeting was the 69th between the two teams, and Providence now holds a 41-28 all-time advantage.
Early in the second half, the Friars (5-2) appeared to take control, leading 66-51 with just under 11 minutes left, but Holy Cross (2-5) put together an 18-3 run, punctuated by an R.J. Evans 3-pointer, to tie the game at 69.
“It was great basketball from an offensive standpoint,” said Providence coach Ed Cooley, “but from a defensive standpoint, I wanted to throw up.”
The score remained close, but a three-point play by Providence freshman LaDontae Henton with 25 seconds left gave the Friars the lead to stay.
“I found an opening and attacked the rim,” Henton said. “Coach was telling me to attack the rim the whole day, so I did.”
The Crusaders’ Phil Beans attempted a desperation 3-pointer to tie the game with 4 seconds left, but the ball caromed off the backboard directly into the hands of Cotton, who quickly drew a foul and made both free throws to end the game.
Cotton’s game was a particular bright spot for the Friars, because Cooley has been running drills in practice specifically encouraging him to shoot. He was coming off a scoreless game against Iowa State.
“Every time Cotton doesn’t shoot in practice,” Cooley said, “we make the whole team run. I was happy he got back on the great side today. Not good. Great.”
Of the Friars’ 82 points, 78 came from Council, Coleman, Cotton and Henton. Coleman played 39 of 40 minutes, while the other three each played the entire game.
Evans and Dave Dudzinski led the Crusaders with 21 points apiece and Dudzinski added 11 rebounds.