ST. THOMAS, U.S. Virgin Islands -- Tyler Harris scored a career-high 22 points on Sunday and Providence held off a second-half surge by La Salle to win a 71-63, earning a berth against Maryland in Monday's finals of the Paradise Jam basketball tournament.
"We got the momentum now," Harris said after the game. "We'll be ready for them."Kadeem Batts scored a season-high 18 points, Bryce Cotton added 11, and Harris grabbed nine rebounds to help hold off a La Salle rally led by Tyreek Duren, who scored 14 of his 16 points in the second half and made it a 1-point game down the stretch.LaSalle (3-3) reeled off 10 unanswered points and led for most of the first period until Batts went on a 10-point run of his own, hitting two jumpers, a layup, a free throw and a 3- pointer before taking the bench with two fouls. Cotton's layup put Providence (6-0) ahead 24-22 and the Explorers led 30-26 at halftime."We fell asleep on a couple out-of-bounds plays," La Salle coach John Giannini said. "We didn't finish a layup at the end of the half. I think those are the things that made the difference."Providence led despite shooting only 35.5 percent from the field on 11-of-31 shooting in the half, compared with 41.4 percent on 12-of-29 shooting for LaSalle."We were on our heels," said Providence coach Ed Cooley. "Our zone started off slow. We're a man-to-man team and that's what we gotta get to. We impose our will offensively by playing inside-out basketball.The Friars opened the second half with a 4-point run, drawing a La Salle timeout, then pulled ahead by nine points on shots by Batts and Harris to lead by 13 at the 8:52 mark. Then La Salle defense stiffened and Tyrone Garland, with strong drives into the paint, kept the Explorers in contention. Garland finished with 14 points.Duren brought La Salle to within six points at 55-49 with a free throw, jumper and a layup, then sank two free throws to make it a 1-point game with 2:49 to play before fouling Harris and the comeback fizzled.Harris scored six free throws and a jumper down the stretch to help put the game out of reach and finished 9-for-9 from the free-throw line."We started out real slow but we picked it up in the second half," said Harris, who blocked a layup attempt by Garland on the game's final play.Duren and Jerrell Wright each scored 16 for La Salle. Steve Zack added 11 and grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds.La Salle made it to the semifinals by beating Morgan State 78-59 on Friday, and Providence made it by beating Vanderbilt 67-60.Maryland (3-2) beat UNI 80-66 on Sunday to advance to the finals, led by Evan Smotrycz, who tied a career-high 20 points.