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Providence wins, looks ahead
PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Providence coach Ed Cooley didn't take long to turn the page after Saturday's 84-61 Big East blowout of DePaul.
Minutes after the victory ended the Friars' three-game losing streak, Cooley was already talking to his players about Tuesday night's game against No. 6 Villanova.
"We are focused on that game," Cooley said after his team sent DePaul to its eighth straight loss. "I don't like the way we played the last time we played them.
"They're a great team, but the one thing about the Big East is it offers you an opportunity to play a game like that, and we're fortunate it's in our building."
The Friars (17-9, 7-6 in the Big East) lost by 30 points at Villanova on Jan. 5. Providence won five in a row after that and is still very much in contention for an NCAA Tournament spot, but that loss hurt.
"We're playing a team that can win a national championship, and it's in our building so we have to take advantage of that," Cooley said.
DePaul (10-16, 2-11) isn't going anywhere at the end of the season.
The Blue Demons have lost six straight since leading scorer and rebounder Cleveland Melvin was suspended for four games because of a violation of team rules, and then left school.
"There's no question, any team in America, any team in our league that loses their leading scorer and rebounder, it's going to affect you," DePaul coach Oliver Purnell said.
"But you have no choice but to keep going and figure out a way to win. You start by playing both ends of the floor."
That's not what his team did in the first half on Saturday, and the Friars took advantage, using a 16-0 run over an early 3:55 span to blow it open.
DePaul was better, and Providence was worse, in the second half but it was too late.
Providence guard Bryce Cotton scored 22 points, dished out six assists and added four rebounds, and forward Kadeem Batts added 15 points and eight boards to lead the way.
The Friars won for the first time since their Feb. 1 road victory at DePaul.
Forward Kadeem Batts added 15 and eight rebounds as the Friars hit 10 of their first 11 shots and never looked back.
Providence placed a season-high six players in double figures.
Forward LaDonatae Henton added 13 points and six rebounds, forward Carson Desrochers came off the bench with 12 points and five boards, and guard Josh Fortune and forward Tyler Harris each scored 10 points for the Friars.
Henton, asked about Villanova, said: "They got us bad at their place; we just gotta do what we can do to get the win on Tuesday.
"It was just a tough loss. It hurt us. We went on a win streak after that, but that was a tough loss for us. I mean, we lost bad and we don't want that to happen again."
Cotton, who entered the game second in the Big East in scoring and first in assists, scored only one point over the final 9:55, and came up just short of his 11th straight 40-minute game.
Guard Brandon Young scored 18 points and forward Sandi Marcius added 15 and both grabbed six rebounds for DePaul, which used a 12-2 second-half run to make things respectable.
"I just think we played with no spunk in the first half," Purnell said. "Our energy defensively wasn't there and offensively we just weren't real smart.
"We rushed some shots and it just seemed like one begat the other and we just didn't have a very good first half at all."
Things improved in a 35-35 second half, but this never became a game.
Marcius, averaging only 4.8 points per game coming in, had 10 of his team's 26 points in the first half.
NOTES: F Cleveland Melvin, no longer with DePaul after leaving school following a four-game suspension because of a violation of team rules, was eighth in the Big East in scoring (16.7 points per game) and seventh in rebounding (6.4) entering play on Saturday. ... Providence, leading the Big East in free throw shooting, was 24-of-29 from the line Saturday. ... DePaul, which was trying to get out of town despite the snow falling outside, is at Xavier Wednesday night. ... The Blue Demons had only four assists Saturday. ... DePaul G Brandon Young recorded his 500th college assist and also jumped from ninth to seventh on the school's all-time made field goals list, with 612. ... Providence won on Alumni Weekend.