Batts free throw the difference as Providence holds on to beat Rhode Island 50-49

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Kadeem Batts broke a 49-49 tie with a free throw with 22.1 seconds left and Providence held on for a 50-49 victory over intra-state rival Rhode Island Thursday night.

After Batts hit only 1 of 2 free throws, the Rams (6-4) set up for a last try, but freshman E.C. Matthews shot an air ball on a fade-away jumper, with Providence's LaDontae Henton grabbing the rebound as time expired.

Bryce Cotton of the Friars (8-2) led all scorers with 15 points, but it was two offensive rebounds and scores by Tyler Harris that wound up as the difference.

Gilvydas Biruta led URI with 13 points and seven rebounds.

The heated affair boiled over late in the game when Providence coach Ed Cooley and counterpart Dan Hurley were both out on the floor screaming at each other as they were being restrained. Both received technical fouls and, after a timeout, they met at midcourt and shook hands.

Harris finished with 11 points and seven rebounds while Batts had seven points and seven boards. Xavier Munford added 11 points for Rhode Island.

The Rams, down by four with 4:22 left, fought back to tie the game when Matthews scored on a floater with 53 seconds remaining.

The Friars, who last trailed at 10-9, scored the game's first four points but the Rams answered with an 8-0 run and led 10-6 with 12:45 left in the half. Providence answered with a 7-0 spurt and never trailed again. The run grew to 23-10 and the Friars had a nine-point lead late in the half.

Cotton, who came in averaging 19 points a game, didn't score until he hit a 3-pointer with 3:47 left in the half. Just over a minute later, he hit another one and then made it eight Providence points in a row with a circus-like drive to the basket. He was fouled on the play, missed the free throw and finished the half with eight points.

He failed to score over the final 4:07.

The Friars were again missing three players, with guard Kris Dunn out indefinitely with a shoulder injury and freshmen Brandon Austin and Rodney Bullock still under team suspension. Neither has made his college debut.