NEW YORK (AP) — Providence lost 40 points per game — specifically Bryce Cotton exhausted his eligibility and Josh Fortune transferred to Colorado — from a team that made a surprising run to the Big East championship last season. They then increased the difficulty of its non-conference schedule.
“Superman” has made it easy for coach Ed Cooley to be thrilled with a 10-3 record.
On Monday night, “Superman” was LaDontae Henton, who scored 18 of his 25 points in the second half helping the Friars pull away for a 76-62 victory over Miami in the Brooklyn Hoops Holiday Invitational.
“We have Superman here and he did a great job,” Cooley said.
Henton helped the Friars win their fourth straight — three of which by double-digits. Before this stretch, Providence lost at top-ranked Kentucky, New England rival Boston College and Brown.
Henton surpassed 20 points for the seventh time this season and shot 10 of 19 overall after missing his first three shots. He reached 20 points with about 6 ½ minutes remaining on a 3-point play that gave the Friars a 66-52 lead.
“I’m glad to see LaDontae is back in a really good offensive rhythm, a more emotional than physical rhythm because when you go on losing streaks you can beat yourself up and not believe in yourself,” Cooley said.
While Henton dominated the undersized Hurricanes, his presence also helped three others reach double figures.
Kris Dunn had 15 and 13 assists for his third double-double of the season as the Friars shot 54.7 percent. Reserve Tyler Harris had 13 points and Carson Desrosiers contributed 12 points, helping Providence to a 48-28 margin in the paint.
“We just wanted to get in transition and get a lot of easy buckets,” Henton said.
Being unable to stop Henton was not Miami’s only problem in its third loss in four games. The Hurricanes (9-3) entered Monday shooting 40 percent from beyond the arc this season, but made just 5 of 27 in the contest.
“We had a great focus when we started the season and we have lost that,” Miami coach Jim Larranaga said. “I don’t know if it is because of final exams or that we took some time off but we really don’t have the same focus that we did in November.”
Providence took control early in the second half, scoring the first eight points and to opena 41-33 lead on a layup by Henton 2 ½ minutes in. When Henton hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key a few minutes later for a 55-45 edge, the Providence contingent in the stands all rose in unison and the Friars were not threatened the rest of the way.
“We set the tone with an 8-0 run and I think that was the game,” Cooley said.
Providence did not trail over the final 35-plus minutes but were deadlocked at 33-33 at halftime after taking a pair of nine-point leads. Angel Rodriguez and Tonye Jeriki had 3-point plays that cut the lead to 33-31 in the final two minutes and the Hurricanes tied it on a running jumper by Sheldon McClellan that rolled around the rim and barely beat the buzzer.
Rodriguez paced Miami with 19 points. McClellan added 17 points while Jeriki had 12 points and 10 boards.
Miami: The Hurricanes’ coaching staff has several connections to the New York area. Besides head coach Jim Larranaga being from the Bronx, assistants Chris Caputo grew up in the Elmhurst section of Queens while Michael Huger led Stevenson High School in the Bronx to consecutive city championships in 1988 and 1989.
Providence: Providence forward Tyler Harris is the younger brother of current Orlando Magic forward Tobias Harris. Before going to St. Benedict’s Prep in Newark, New Jersey for his senior season, he was a teammate of his brother at Hall Hallows High School in Dix Hills, New York.
Miami: Hosts College of Charleston on Dec. 30.
Providence: Hosts Creighton on Dec. 31.
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