The Providence Friars upset the 14th-ranked Creighton Bluejays in the Big East tournament championship Saturday night, emerging victorious by a score of 65-58 to earn an NCAA tournament bid.
Providence got off to a hot start and took advantage of a sluggish Creighton team early in the contest. By halftime, the Friars had a nine-point lead over the Bluejays, entering the break up 26-17.
The teams traded baskets over the second half of the contest, as Providence's Bryce Cotton went toe-to-toe with Creighton's Doug McDermott.
Cotton put on a dazzling display, connecting on eight of his 18 attempts from the field and finishing with 23 points, five rebounds, one assist and one steal. Tyler Harris and Josh Fortune complemented him nicely, combining for 20 points.
Pretty awesome to see Palo Verde's Bryce Cotton lead his team to a Big East tourney title and a ticket to the NCAA tourney. A great dude.— Daniel Berk (@DSBerk) March 16, 2014
On the Creighton side, it was all McDermott. Without any kind of a supporting cast, he still managed to connect on 10 of his 19 field-goal attempts, including going 5-of-12 from three-point range. He finished with a game-high 27 points, adding five rebounds and one assist.
To put things into perspective for this Creighton team, McDermott outscored the squad's other four starters 27-15. However, Austin Chatman distributed the ball nicely, totaling eight assists.
Despite his team's performance, McDermott is still upbeat and looking forward to the NCAA tournament, according to Fox Sports Live:
"I think the highlight of our season has yet to come." - Doug McDermott #BigEastChampionship— FOX Sports Live (@FOXSportsLive) March 16, 2014
Head coach Greg McDermott was happy to get his team on the map, according to Creighton beat writer Rob Anderson:
"I think there was a whole city that didn't know a lot about Creighton, that knows a lot about Creighton now." - Greg McDermott on New York— Rob Anderson (@_robanderson) March 16, 2014
The coach remained humble and praised Ed Cooley and Providence as well, according to Matt Norlander of CBS Sports:
“I hate to lose in a game like this, but if I have to lose, losing to someone like Ed is as good as it can possibly be.” Greg McDermott.— Matt Norlander (@MattNorlander) March 16, 2014
After such a hot run, Creighton will now enter the NCAA tournament on a down note. This team can still do some damage going forward, although it needs to right the ship and avoid more sluggish starts.
Providence gets its ticket punched following this win. After beating Creighton, this team's confidence should be at an all-time high. The Friars could be a dark horse, as their victory on Saturday will give them a hot hand as March Madness rolls on.
Bryce Cotton, G, Providence
Cotton was spectacular Saturday night, doing everything in his power to will this Providence team to victory. He stepped up when it mattered most and delivered the performance of the game. He remains a top player to watch entering the NCAA tournament.
Bryce Cotton named Most Outstanding Player. He finished with 23 points on 8-of-19 shooting in the game.— SI College Hoops (@si_ncaabb) March 16, 2014
Game Grade: A+
Josh Fortune, G, Providence
Fortune was relatively quiet on Saturday; however, he didn't make any crucial mistakes that cost the team. He connected on two of his three attempts from the field and made all five of his free-throw attempts, coming away with 10 points on the day.
Game Grade: B+
LaDontae Henton, F, Providence
Henton didn't have a great day from a scoring perspective. He went just 3-of-10 from the field, managing just nine points against Creighton. However, he did dominate the boards, accumulating a game-high 13 rebounds.
Game Grade: B-
Doug McDermott, F, Creighton
McDermott did everything he could to get Creighton back into the game after such an awful start. He was tremendous down the stretch, hitting five three-pointers within a 10-minute span. Despite not having much of a supporting cast, he scored a game-high 27 points.
Creighton's Doug McDermott & Austin Chatman named to All-Tourney Team. PC's Bryce Cotton was MVP.— Creighton Basketball (@BluejayMBB) March 16, 2014
Game Grade: A+
Austin Chatman, G, Creighton
Chatman was rather ineffective as a scorer, hitting just one of four shots from the field. However, his ball distribution was great, as he set up McDermott for success and came away with eight assists.
Game Grade: B+
Jahenns Manigat, G, Creighton
The Bluejays needed much more from Manigat. He didn't seem to show up at all over the contest. Manigat finished the game connecting on just one of his six attempts from the field—all three-point attempts—for three points.
Game Grade: C