Men’s Basketball: Irish ruin Friars’ Senior night in road win
Pat Leonard | Thursday, March 2, 2006
Chris Quinn did not score Wednesday night until 1:52 remained in the first half. But unlike in its 80-72 loss to Marquette Saturday, Notre Dame was able to find production elsewhere.
Behind 21 points from guard Russell Carter and 18 from forward Torin Francis, Notre Dame knocked off Providence 82-75 Wednesday night at the Dunkin Donuts Center, despite its star player’s slow start.
Quinn finished with 19 points after scoring only three the whole first half. And the Irish (14-12, 5-10 Big East) now need only one more win on Saturday (DePaul, Joyce Center, 4 p.m.) to earn a berth in the conference tournament beginning March 8 in New York City.
Providence (12-14, 5-10) needed the win just as badly but could not get it done, even though it had the home court and Senior Night on its side.
“They wanted this win almost as much as we did,” Francis said in a phone interview with The Observer following the game. “But I don’t think they wanted it more.”
Notre Dame shot 49 percent from the field and out-rebounded Providence 36-26. Francis grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds and became the main Irish scoring option when Quinn and guard Colin Falls (six points, 2-of-7 shooting) could not get open. He also secured five offensive rebounds and kept several possessions alive with tips or rebounds.
“It was just one of those things where you know you have to get this win, so I just started attacking the basket aggressively,” Francis said. “Then I think that energy rubbed off on everyone else.”
The Irish also switched in-and-out of zone and man defenses throughout the game to rattle the Friars’ shooters. Providence freshman guard Sharaud Curry led all scorers with 25 points, but Notre Dame succeeded in keying on Providence guard Donnie McGrath and prevented him from getting more than a few open looks.
McGrath, who entered the game with a team-high 15.4 points per game scoring average in conference play, played all 40 minutes but scored just nine points on 3-of-13 shooting, replicating an equally frustrating 3-of-12 shooting effort in Providence’s 92-77 loss to Notre Dame at the Joyce Center Jan. 14.
“Coach Brey wanted us to switch back from zone to man, man to zone, and that was real effective,” Francis said. “They were hot early, but they weren’t shooting like that all game because of our defense.”
Quinn did not explode for 31 points on 11-of-14 shooting as he did Jan. 14 against the Friars, but he deferred to teammates in the teams’ second meeting.
Once Francis scored with 8:45 remaining in the first half to give Notre Dame a 19-18 advantage, Providence could not regain the lead until forward Geoff McDermott hit 1-of-2 foul shots at the 7:05 mark of the second half to put the Friars up, 60-59.
But Notre Dame answered the threat with a 9-0 run sparked by two Francis free throws. Francis completed the run with a bucket to make the score 68-60 with about four minutes to go. And though Providence center Herbert Hill converted an old-fashioned 3-point play to cut the lead to 68-63, Carter, Quinn, Falls and freshman guard Kyle McAlarney (11 points, 3-of-4 3-pointers) made key baskets and foul shots down the stretch to fend off the Friars, who inched to five points with a minute-and-a-half remaining but could not get closer.
Notre Dame takes a 10-9 all-time series lead against Providence with the victory.
Carter, who played only four minutes against the Friars Jan. 14, filled Quinn’s scorer’s role in the first half by dropping 13 points in the first 20 minutes. He made 5-of-7 field goals, including 2-of-4 3-pointers, in that stretch.
Both teams got off to sluggish overall starts, though Providence prevailed in the early minutes. With the Irish in man-to-man defense, the Friars found lanes to drive and kick, opening a 5-0 lead early and a 10-5 advantage (4-of-7 shooting) at 15:25.
Providence’s Curry scored 16 points in the half to lead all scorers.
But Cornett hit 1-of-2 free throws, and then Notre Dame switched to a match-up zone, forcing three Providence turnovers in the next four minutes.
McGrath hit a 3-pointer with 14 minutes remaining to give the Friars a 13-6 lead, but the Irish went on a 9-0 run, sparked by consecutive Carter baskets and four points from Rob Kurz to take a 15-13 lead at 11:33.
Neither team could miss just minutes later.
Beginning with a McAlarney 3-pointer to make the score 22-18 Irish, Notre Dame and Providence combined to hit five straight 3-point baskets, with McAlarney hitting a second from deep to give his team a 28-24 lead.
That was part of a stretch in which Notre Dame made eight field goals on eight consecutive possessions, unfazed by the Senior Night atmosphere of the Dunkin Donuts Center.
“With the amount of places we’ve played, it wasn’t a very intimidating atmosphere,” Francis said. “We’ve played in much more hostile environments, but they still had the advantage playing on their home floor. They were in the same position as us.”
The teams traded baskets and Quinn sank his first basket with 1:52 to give the Irish a ten-point lead, and Providence scored the final six points of the half – including a Curry lay up off a McGrath steal, when Quinn turned the ball over as Notre Dame held for the last shot.
Notre Dame led 42-38 at the half.
ESPN The Magazine has named Quinn to its Men’s Basketball University Division Academic All-America First Team, making Quinn the seventh player in the history of Notre Dame men’s basketball to earn Academic All-America honors.
Quinn is the first Irish men’s basketball player since Pat Garrity (Orlando Magic) to earn the award. Garrity earned the honor in both 1997 and 1998.
Notre Dame is the only school to have a men’s and women’s player (point guard Megan Duffy) honored as Academic All-Americans this year.