TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Providence continued its modest winning streak thanks to a dominating second half.
Kadeem Batts scored 24 points and LaDontae Henton had 19 as Providence overcame an 11-point halftime deficit to beat South Florida 76-66 Wednesday night.
‘‘We’re more of a second-half team, and we really battled back,’’ Batts said. ‘‘We didn’t really get down on ourselves. We just kept fighting all game.’’
Providence (13-11, 5-7), which has won three consecutive Big East games for the first time since 2008-09, also got 13 points from Bryce Cotton. The Friars were coming off a 54-50 win over then-No. 17 Cincinnati on Feb. 6 in which Batts had 25 points and nine rebounds.
Providence coach Ed Cooley, battling flu-like symptoms, coached the game but did not take part in the postgame news conference.
‘‘He said that they were playing like a team that was desperate for a win and we were playing like a team that was 15-0 in the Big East and we could afford to get a loss,’’ Friars associate head coach Andre LaFleur said of Cooley’s halftime comments to his team. ‘‘That was the difference.’’
Batts scored 16 of his points in the second half. Providence, keyed by Vincent Council’s 3-pointer and a go-ahead basket by Kris Dunn, scored the first 17 points of the second to take a 42-36 lead with 13 minutes left.
Victor Rudd had 26 points and Toarlyn Fitzpatrick chipped in 14 for South Florida (10-14, 1-11), which has lost seven in a row. The Bulls scored 50 points or less in four of their previous six games.
‘‘That’s the million dollar question ... we have not been able to put together 40 minutes of play,’’ South Florida coach Stan Heath said. ‘‘If I could give you the answer to that, it would solve a lot of the problems right now.’’
Rudd made a 3-pointer as the Bulls pulled within 66-61 with 2 minutes to go.
Council, who finished with 11 points, and Cotton made a combined six free throws down the stretch to preserve the Friars’ win.
‘‘The same thing has been going on throughout the Big East (season) ... one half we play great defense, the next half we don't,’’ Rudd said. ‘‘We've got to put it together.’’
JaVontae Hawkins scored South Florida’s first points in the second half on a basket with 12:57 remaining.
Providence went ahead 48-38 on Henton’s dunk, which was part of a 23-2 second-half opening surge.
‘‘I think the team right now is really learning how to take advantage of every opportunity that they have in the Big East Conference, especially a road win,’’ LaFleur said.
Rudd had 12 points to help South Florida grab a 36-25 halftime lead. The forward returned after missing one game because of a groin injury.
Anthony Collins’ layup gave South Florida a 34-20 advantage 2 minutes before intermission.
Fitzpatrick made a 3 and Rudd had a dunk as South Florida took an early 10-2 lead. Baskets by Kore White and Collins extended the Bulls advantage to 20-7.
Henton connected on a long-range jumper during a 10-0 run that got Providence within 20-17 midway through the first.
The Bulls ended a 6-minute scoring drought when Martino Brock’s jumper made it 22-17 with 6:30 to go in the half.