Thursday, February 11, 2016

In defeat, Providence's Bentil puts up a career-high 42 points and steals the show

                                 Photo Credit: Geno Green

Providence's Kris Dunn and Marquette's Henry Ellenson appeared to be the top storyline going into Wednesday night's Providence/Marquette game.

A detour happened to nix with the spotlight— the return of Providence forward Ben Bentil, who came into the game as the leading scorer in the BIG EAST conference with 19.7 points per game.

With 27 NBA scouts on hand, primarily evaluating Dunn and Ellenson at the BMO Harris Bradley Center in Milwaukee, Wisc., Bentil stood out and added a little diversion to the script with a career-high 42 points, to go along with 12 rebounds.

With Rodney Bullock and Dunn gone in the fourth quarter and overtime, respectively due to foul trouble, Bentil played what amounted to the equivalent of a timed NBA game at 48 minutes.

Even Bentil's best efforts could not push Providence across the finish line with its third loss in a row, 96-91 at Marquette in double overtime.

Marquette coach Steve Wojciechowski gave high praise to Bentil for showing significant progression from his freshman to sophomore campaign.

"[Ben's] a great player and what he has done from one year to the next should be an example to all college kids," Wojciechowski said. 

"His improvement from last year to this year is amazing and he is one heck of a player."

Providence coach Ed Cooley knows Bentil could not do it all on his own and Dunn fouling out did not make things any better.

"[Bentil] had one of those games where the rim looked like ocean," Cooley said. "Give him a lot of credit, but he can't do it by himself."

Bentil and even Dunn can not be the only players to step up every single game on both sides of the ball and the one telling sign of the Friars' three-game losing streak became widely evident— the role players' inabilities to contribute on the offensive end in critical portions of games.

Granted, Providence goes eight-deep in its rotation, but for players outside of Dunn and Bentil to combine for 32 points throws an immediate red flag.

The month of March is creeping ever so gently and if performances such as Bentil's 42 points continue go in vain, then Providence could be on the wrong end of a loss in the Round of 64 for the third consecutive season in the NCAA Tournament.

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Follow Geno Green on Twitter @GenoSportsguy.