Providence, one of the hottest teams in the Big East, won its fifth straight conference game for the first time in a decade Saturday, defeating Xavier, 81-72, at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center.
The Friars and Musketeers are each 5-2 in league play and 15-5 overall.
Bryce Cotton led the Friars with 25 points and seven assists. It was the 12th time this season that the senior had 20 or more points. With several members of the national media in the postgame press conference, Providence coach Ed Cooley took the occasion to praise Cotton, the Big East’s second-leading scorer and assists leader.
‘‘If you tell me there’s a guy in the country who’s played better than him in the last month, I want to know who that person is,’’ said Cooley. ‘‘Bryce is so undervalued by the national media, but he’s not undervalued in this room.’’
The Friars’ LaDontae Henton enjoyed one of his better games of the season with 23 points and 11 rebounds before fouling out with 2:13 left. Kadeem Batts and Tyler Harris added 12 points apiece.
Justin Martin paced Xavier with 19 points. Semaj Christon, the team’s scoring leader, had 18 points, 16 in the second half.
The Friars wasted little time in showing they were ready to play. PC grabbed four offensive rebounds in the first eight minutes on its way to attempting 12 free throws in the first half. The toughness that Cooley’s team showed helped offset the offensive deficiencies as the Friars went into halftime ahead, 35-31.
‘‘I thought we were getting quality shots in the first half. They just weren’t going down,’’ said Cooley.
Matt Stainbrook’s layup with 1:48 left pulled Xavier within 76-72 but that was it for the Musketeers. Cotton hit 3 of 4 free throws and Tyler Harris hit two while Xavier was missing its last four shots.
BU 64, Bucknell 61 — Dom Morris, John Papale, and Maurice Watson Jr. each scored 12 points and the Terriers survived a furious late rally by the Bison to get the win in Lewisburg, Pa.
BU (14-7, 7-1 Patriot League) led by 20 with eight minutes to play but Bucknell went on a 28-9 run to cut its deficit to 59-58 on a 3-pointer by Chris Hass with 19 seconds left.
Papale then hit 3 of 4 free throws and Watson made a layup to help the Terriers seal the victory, their seventh in the last eight games.
BU held Bucknell (9-10, 4-4) to just 16 points and 25 percent shooting in the first half. Bucknell shot only 33.3 percent from the field for the game but the Terriers didn’t fare much better, making 37.3 percent of their field goals.
Northeastern 70, Hofstra 57 — Demetrius Pollard scored 25 points and Scott Eatherton added 18 with seven rebounds to lift the Huskies past the Pride in Hempstead, N.Y.
NU (7-14, 4-3 Colonial Athletic Association) shot 51.9 percent from the field and hit 9 of 17 3-pointers. Pollard shot 9 of 14 overall, 6 of 8 beyond the arc, and dished out six assists. David Walker chipped in 10 points for the Huskies.
The Pride jumped out to a 12-2 lead but Northeastern closed the first half on a 10-4 run capped by Pollard’s 3-point play to pull within 3 at the break.
Hofstra (7-13, 3-2) was led by Dion Nesmith with 18 points and Zeke Upshaw had 12.
UConn 82, Rutgers 71 — Shabazz Napier scored 20 of his 26 points in the second half and the Huskies (16-4, 4-3 American Athletic Conference) used a 34-12 scoring advantage in the paint to knock off the host Scarlet Knights (8-12, 2-5).
Rhode Island 88, Dayton 76 — Xavier Munford scored 27 points and the host Rams (11-10, 2-4 Atlantic 10) shot 62.5 percent from the field — the fourth-best performance in program history — in a win over the Flyers (13-7, 1-4).
E.C. Matthews added 20 points and 10 rebounds and Gilvydas Biruta scored 15 for Rhode Island.
Holy Cross 67, Navy 52 — Justin Burrell scored 17 points and Dave Dudzinski added 16 points and nine rebounds, leading the visiting Crusaders (11-9, 5-3 Patriot League) to the easy win over the Midshipmen (7-12, 2-6).
Brown 73, Yale 56 — Ivy League scoring leader Sean McGonagill made seven 3-pointers on his way to 29 points and the host Bears (9-7, 1-1) avenged a loss last week to the Bulldogs (7-9, 1-1).
Bryant 83, St. Francis (N.Y.) 79 — Dyami Starks scored 31 points and Alex Francis had 19 points and 12 rebounds as the host Bulldogs (13-8, 5-1 Northeast Conference) held off the Terriers (12-9, 3-3).
St. Francis (Pa.) 68, Sacred Heart 66 — Chris Evans scored 18 points but the host Red Flash (4-15, 2-4 Northeast) made 7 of 8 free throws in the final minute to hold off the Pioneers (4-17, 1-5).
UMBC 60, Hartford 58 — Taylor Dyson scored 15 points and the Hawks (10-12, 4-3 America East) erased a 13-point second-half deficit before falling to the Retrievers (6-14, 2-5) in Baltimore.
Fairleigh Dickinson 86, Central Conn. 73 — Faronte Drakeford paced the Blue Devils (8-12, 4-2 Northeast) with 20 points but the Knights (5-14, 1-5) used a 22-2 run in the first half to get the home win.