- Associated Press - Thursday, January 16, 2014

NEW YORK (AP) - Bryce Cotton made the biggest defensive play of the game and then the biggest offensive play. What would you expect from a guy who played 50 minutes and nearly had a triple-double?

The 6-foot-1 senior guard had 21 points, nine rebounds and eight assists to lead the Friars to an 84-83 double-overtime victory over St. John’s on Thursday night, the Red Storm’s fifth straight loss.

“He made senior plays,” Providence coach Ed Cooley said. “Seniors make urgent plays.”

St. John’s had chances to win the game at the end of regulation and two overtimes, the last one a drive to the basket by Phil Greene IV that bounced off the rim. That meant St. John’s losing streak was still going and the Friars had evened their record in overtime games at 2-2 this season.

“Those two overtime losses to UMass and Seton Hall, that’s still sitting in our stomachs,” Cotton said. “We wanted to make sure we were able to rally back and get some momentum and get back to the team we know we can be.”

Cotton’s big defensive play came when he tied up Max Hooper under the St. John’s basket with 21 seconds left in the second overtime and Providence trailing by a point. The possession arrow favored the Friars and, after a timeout, Cotton drove to the basket and banked in a shot with 9.8 seconds remaining to give the Friars (12-5, 2-2 Big East) an 84-83 lead.

The Red Storm (9-8, 0-5) had their third chance for the game-winner but Greene missed and Providence got the rebound with less than a second to play.

“That alone was growth. We just didn’t get what we asked for,” St. John’s coach Steve Lavin said of the game’s final shot. “It was ideal, just what we drew up. I thought he got bumped, but that’s a good look for him and our team.”

In their losses to start the conference season, the Red Storm have been in the games except for a blowout at Georgetown. The loss to DePaul on Tuesday came down to the final possession, and St. John’s didn’t get the shot it wanted at the end that time.

“We’re in a funk right now and we have to pull ourselves out of it,” said Sir’Dominic Pointer, who had 11 points and seven rebounds. “We have to find a way to win.”

Tyler Harris added 18 points for Providence, which played mostly a six-man rotation, while Kadeem Batts and LaDontae Henton both had 17 points and nine rebounds. Cotton and fellow guard Josh Fortune both played all 50 minutes.

“We were in position to give ourselves a good rotation but that deteriorated very, very fast,” Cooley said, referring to the season-ending shoulder injury to guard Kris Dunn and the suspension of two freshmen for an off-the-court incident. “Give our players credit.”

JaKarr Sampson had 16 points and eight rebounds for the Red Storm, who lost at Carnesecca Arena for the first time in six games this season. Greene had 15 points for St. John’s and D’Angelo Harrison had 14, including 10 in the last 5 minutes of regulation and the overtimes.

St. John’s had a chance to win at the end of regulation and the first overtime.

Harrison rebounded a missed 3 by Harris, who had tied the game at 67 with two free throws with 1:28 to go, with 40 seconds left in regulation. The Red Storm ran the shot clock down to about 2 seconds and Orlando Sanchez missed a straightaway 3-point attempt. Cotton got off a wild shot from midcourt at the buzzer.

After Cotton made one of two free throws - the Friars had been 26 of 27 from the line before that - to tie it at 77 with 1:39 to go in the first overtime, both teams missed shots and again the Red Storm worked the ball down to the final seconds. Harrison lost control of the ball, got it back and missed a baseline jumper as the buzzer sounded.

Providence has won 14 of the last 18 games in the series.

Both teams came into the game leading the nation in a statistical category.

St. John’s is blocking 8.9 shots per game as it tries to repeat as the national leader, and sophomore Chris Obekpa is No. 2 nationally with 4.1 blocks per game. The Red Storm had six blocks, one by Obekpa.

The Friars’ 79.7 percent from the free throw line led the nation. They finished 30 of 36, with five of the misses coming in the overtimes.

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