BAYAMON, Puerto Rico - Providence guard Bryce Cotton scored 30 points to lead the Friars to a 72-67 win over UNC Asheville Sunday afternoon in the seventh-place game of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off.
Providence (3-2) led by 13 early in the second half only to see the Bulldogs (1-4) storm back and take the lead late in the game.
Asheville was led by a career-high 20 points from Trent Meyer. The junior guard went 4-of-9 from the 3-point line. Jeremy Atkinson finished with a double-double as he scored 16 points and a career-high 13 rebounds. Keith Hornsby added 10 points.
"Bryce Cotton is an excellent player and he did a good job in the game," said Asheville coach Eddie Biedenbach. "We had a hard time containing him throughout the contest.
"We're an inexperienced team and at times it shows," added Biedenbach. "We didn't play with emotion from the start where Providence did the whole game. Our guys did a good job coming back but just couldn't finish the comeback. Providence made the plays when it had to late in the game.
"We didn't get to the free throw line as much as we needed to," Biedenbach also said.
Asheville (1-5) led 64-63 with 2:36 left on a Meyer fast-break lay-up. But Lee Goldbrough hit his only basket of the game to give the Friars the lead for good at 65-64.
Cotton would score six of the Friars final seven points to seal the Providence victory. Asheville went 1-of-3 from the free throw line and 1-for-5 from the field in the final two minutes of the contest.
"We're learning to play in late-game situations with this team," declared Biedenbach. "You just have to battle through these situations and learn from it."
Providence controlled the first half as the Friars shot .560 (14-of-25) from the field. Cotton was tough to stop for the Bulldogs as he scored 15 points in the opening half. He went 7-of-11 from the field and knocked down a three-pointer as Providence led 32-25 at halftime.
Asheville struggled with its shooting against Providence's defense. The Bulldogs shot just .303 from the field (10-of-33) and also committed eight turnovers.
Offensive rebounding kept Asheville in the game in the first half. The Bulldogs had 10 offensive rebounds to just two for the Friars. Asheville had 14 second-chance points to none for Providence.
Providence started the second half on fire and quickly built the lead to 40-27 on back-to-back three-pointers.
The Bulldogs began to rally behind Meyer who made three of his four 3-pointers in a five-minute span to bring Asheville back. The Bulldogs finally took their first lead of the game with 8:00 left on a Will Weeks lay-up at 56-55.
UNC Asheville is off until Friday when the Bulldogs travel to N.C. State for a game with the Wolfpack at the PNC Center starting at 7 p.m. Friday's game can be seen on ESPN3 and heard locally on WWNC Radio (570-AM).
The Bulldogs have lost four in a row for the first time since the 2009-10 season...Asheville forced 20 Providence turnovers as the Bulldogs had a season-high 14 steals...the Bulldogs had 18 second-chance points to five for Providence...the double-double for Atkinson was the fifth of his career and second of the season...Asheville made a season-high six 3-pointers.