SOUTH BEND, Ind. – The open looks were there for Providence. The Friars just struggled to connect Friday night in their regular-season finale against Notre Dame.
That was one problem but an even bigger one was 6-foot-9 Notre Dame center Jack Cooley, who scored a career-high 27 points and had 17 rebounds as the Irish held on for a 75-69 victory.
"He made a couple of shots and he's a physically imposing post player. But I thought we played great position defense," Providence coach Ed Cooley said. "There were a lot of ticky-tack things around the basket, but that's how they saw it and how they called it."
LaDontate Henton had 18 points and 12 rebounds, Vincent Council added 17 points with 10 assists and Gerard Coleman 15 for Providence (15-16, 4-14). But the Friars were cold out from the 3-point line, missing their first 13 attempts before hitting three straight and finishing 4-for-20.
Entering the game the Friars were the leading 3-point shooting team in the Big East at nearly 37 percent.
"Oh wow, where do you start? I thought we had great shots for 40 minutes. That's the most open shots we've had in 31 games," Ed Cooley said. "We couldn't buy a shot, we couldn't make a shot."
Notre Dame led by three at the half and then outscored the Friars 26-5 over the first 10 minutes of the second to seemingly take control.
But Providence scrapped and got to within six in the final minute before the comeback ran out of time and steam. Now it's on to New York for next week's Big East tournament
"I think we're a team that not many teams will want to face in this tournament," Ed Cooley said. "We're going to fight to the end. Let's see if we can get lucky. This ended up on a bad not on the road. You got to go to New York City and crazy, crazy things happen in that city. That's why I love it."
Notre Dame will get a double bye in the tournament and a No. 3 seed, thanks to the victory.
The Irish (21-10, 13-5) ended a two-game losing skid that followed a nine-game winning streak and now will have extra time to prepare for the conference tournament. The Irish will get a double bye and go in as the No. 3 seed.
"It's good to clinch that up. It really is," Jack Cooley said. "We get to wait to play. ... And we get to watch great basketball while sitting in the hotel room."
Cooley scored 21 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in the first half, hitting 7 of 10 shots. He finished 10 for 15 from the field.
"It was good to see us get into a rhythm. I'm certainly happy to see Cooley bounce back with a vengeance. We were able to throw it to him," Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said.
Cooley was coming off a two-point, no-rebound performance against Georgetown on Monday.
"Monday was just extremely uncharacteristic. I just had a horrible game," Cooley added.
"Nothing was really right. Something really wasn't right. Things weren't falling and it was really frustrating. I needed to get back out there and have a good game and I had a pretty good one tonight."
Injured Tim Abromaitis and fellow senior Scott Martin were honored pre-game and at halftime Hall of Famer Adrian Dantley was inducted into Notre Dame's Ring of Honor. Dantley also spoke to the Fighting Irish.
"I'm glad we delivered for him on his induction night. He spoke to the team afterward. He made a point of saying the team you were in December and what I've seen, you're two different teams," Brey said.
"It was great for our guys to get to meet him because he's all over this place. Special night and great to have him back."