March 2, 2012
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - The Providence College men's basketball team gave No.20 Notre Dame all it could handle for 30 minutes of action Friday night, but the Irish were too much for the Friars in the second half, as Notre Dame pulled away to earn a 75-69 victory inside Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center.
Providence (15-16, 4-14 BIG EAST) trailed by just three (31-28) at the break, but Notre Dame (21-10, 13-5 BIG EAST) used runs of 11-2 and 15-0 in the second half to build a double-digit lead the Friars could not overcome, despite a furious comeback in the game's final minutes.
Junior guard Vincent Council paced the Friars with his ninth double-double of the season, posting 17 points and a game-high 10 assists in 40 minutes of action. Council - who entered the game leading the BIG EAST with 7.4 assists per contest - recorded his eighth game with 10 or more helpers on the year. Sophomore guard Gerard Coleman added 17 points, including 11 in the second half, while freshman forward LaDontae Henton notched his 10th double-double with 18 points and 12 rebounds.
The Friars shot 39.4 percent for the game and moved the ball well by dishing out 16 assists on 28 field goals. After holding the Irish to just 37.9 percent (11-29) shooting in the first half, Notre Dame caught fire in the second frame to shoot 57.7 percent (15-26) from the floor, including a 66.7 mark (4-6) from behind the arc.
The Irish jumped out to an early 13-8 lead behind 11 early points from junior forward Jack Cooley. The Friars responded with four-straight points to move within one (13-12), and pulled ahead of Notre Dame, 16-15, on a transition dunk by freshman forward LaDontae Henton with 8:12 to play in the first half.
The Friars stayed ahead by one (20-19) on a jumper by Council, but Notre Dame moved back in front by three (27-24) on a Jack Cooley lay-in with 2:26 remaining in the stanza. The Irish led 31-26 with 30 seconds left in the half, but sophomore guard Gerard Coleman hit a floater as time expired to cut the Notre Dame lead to three (31-28) at the break.
Providence held Notre Dame to 37.9 shooting (11-29) in the opening stanza, including a 25.0 percent mark (1-4) from behind the three-point line. Council led the Friars with 10 first-half points and four assists.
Notre Dame opened the second half on an 11-2 run to move ahead 42-31 and finally get some breathing room from the Friars. A lay-in by Eric Atkins extended the Irish lead to 19 (52-33) with 13:05 to play, and Notre Dame took its largest lead at 60-35 on a triple by Alex Dragicevich. Providence responded with a 12-0 run, highlighted by three-pointers from Henton and sophomore guard Bryce Cotton, to move back within 13 at 60-47 with 6:26 remaining.
Providence cut the lead to 11 on a strong lay-in by Coleman with less than two minutes remaining, and another Coleman runner got the Friars within six (69-63) with 50 seconds to go. That's as close as Providence would get, as Notre Dame made its free throws to seal the victory.
The Friars now head to New York City for the annual BIG EAST Tournament at Madison Square Garden. Providence will open play on Tuesday against an opponent to be determined.
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