- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 3, 2016

ROSEMONT, Ill. (AP) - Ben Bentil’s breakout season for No. 11 Providence took a painful turn when he hurt his right ankle in the first half against DePaul on Tuesday night.

Bentil wasn’t the same when he returned to the court, leaving a huge void inside that the Friars were unable to overcome.

With Bentil limited to just 14 minutes, the Blue Demons focused on Kris Dunn and enjoyed a 48-24 rebounding advantage in a 77-70 victory over Providence.

“We don’t have a lot of people in the frontcourt at his status,” Dunn said. “Ben, he’s an amazing player and he does a great job for us, but it’s just the next man to step up and we’re just going to have to see down the road what’s going to happen.”

Bentil, who was averaging a Big East-best 20.3 points coming into the night, went down about 10 minutes into the game after battling for the ball inside. He managed to return after hobbling off the court, but it was clear the injury was bothering him and he finished with just six points and no rebounds.

Coach Ed Cooley said he will know more after Bentil sees a doctor.

“He tried to give it a go, so I give him a lot of credit,” Cooley said. “But he couldn’t go. It was sore, swollen. Hope for the best and see what happens.”

The Blue Demons (8-14, 2-8 Big East) had lost eight of nine, but Myke Henry burned the Friars for 27 points and 11 rebounds. Billy Garrett Jr. added 16 points and Rashaun Stimage had nine points on 4-for-4 shooting.

“We were just resilient enough to carry it over the top,” coach Dave Leitao said. “A little bit hairy at the end with our press offense, but we haven’t been in that position almost all year. We hung in there and got the win.”

Dunn finished with 14 points and eight assists for Providence (18-5, 6-4), but was 5 for 20 from the field. The star guard was coming off a 26-point performance in a 73-69 victory over Georgetown on Saturday.

“We try the best we can every game. I don’t think we take anybody lightly,” Dunn said. “Like I said, they were the better team tonight. They were a lot more physical. They play a lot more tough than us.”

Dunn helped Providence sweep the season series a year ago, including his first career triple-double in an 83-72 victory on Jan. 29, 2015. But the Blue Demons did a much better job of keeping a close watch on him this time around.

“It was our normal defense, but with him, we wanted him to see six eyes on him at all times,” Henry said.

It was the Friars’ first road loss of the season, and they have to push this one aside in a hurry. Next up is a home game against No. 3 Villanova on Saturday.

DePaul broke open a close game in the second half with a 13-2 run that included a scoring drought of almost 4 1/2 minutes for Providence. Henry made a go-ahead 3-pointer and a layup, and Darrick Wood’s transition layup with 14:25 left lifted the Blue Demons to a 51-43 lead.


Cooley disputed the idea that Providence’s loss was an upset.

“They outplayed us,” he said. “They were better than us today. Because we have a number beside our name, it’s an upset? You’ve got to come and be prepared. That’s why you play the game.”


Providence: Ryan Fazekas made three 3-pointers and finished with 13 points. Rodney Bullock finished with 11, and Kyron Cartwright had 10 points. … The Friars shot 30.3 percent (10 for 33) in the second half.

DePaul: Garrett got an assist in the first half to become the 16th player in school history with 300 or more for his career. … The Blue Demons’ only other victory over a Top 25 team was an 82-61 win against then-No. 20 George Washington on Dec. 22.


Providence hosts No. 3 Villanova on Saturday.

DePaul visits Creighton on Saturday.


Jay Cohen can be reached at https://www.twitter.com/jcohenap

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