Published February 16, 2013
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Notre Dame coach Mike Brey is happy his team had only one-regular season game against Providence. And he doesn't want to play the Friars in the Big East tournament.
"I'm glad we don't repeat them, and I hope we don't see them in New York," Brey said following No. 21 Notre Dame's 71-54 loss Saturday. "They're really good."
Kadeem Batts scored 20 points and Vincent Council had 11 assists to become Providence's career leader, carrying the resurgent Friars.
The Irish (20-6, 8-5 Big East) had won three of their last four games in overtime, but this one lacked the any suspense.
Providence (14-11, 6-7) never trailed after the first four minutes and widened its lead 24 during in the second half.
"They were waiting on us today, and they delivered the blow," Brey said. "That was the varsity versus the J.V. a little bit today."
Bryce Cotton, the Big East scoring leader, had 19 points and LaDontae Henton 13 for the Friars, who have won four straight. The streak also includes a victory over then-No. 17 Cincinnati on Feb. 6.
Notre Dame had won its previous nine games against Providence.
Council also had 11 rebounds and seven points. His 671 assists surpassed the 662 of Ernie DiGregorio from 1970-73. Council needs two assists to match the Big East record of 426 set by Syracuse's Sherman Douglas from 1985-89.
Jack Cooley led Notre Dame with 12 points and 10 rebounds, and Tom Knight and Garrick Sherman each scored 11. It was just the second loss in seven games for the Fighting Irish.
"They came out and got in a rhythm, and we didn't play with enough defensive intensity," Irish center Pat Connaughton said.
The Friars led by eight points at halftime and increased their lead to 36-26 on the first possession of the second half when Batts made a one-handed baseline flip.They improved to 44-31 on Cotton's 3-pointer from the left corner with 17:21 to play.
Providence, which seemed to get nearly every loose ball in the early minutes of the second half, followed with a 15-6 run and opened a 56-39 lead on Cotton's corner jumper with just under 12 minutes to play. Henton keyed the run, scoring seven consecutive points.
After Sherman made a layup for the Irish, Providence used a 9-0 run for a 65-39 edge on Batts' jumper with 9:18 left. Council made a a pair of jumpers during the spree and Henton had a three-point play, coming off a hustle rebound and put-back.
Providence went over 5 minutes without scoring a point after opening its 17-point lead, but Notre Dame couldn't sustain any consistent offense. The Irish scored nine straight points, but it took them too long to make a serious run.
The sold-out crowd broke into a brief chant of "Over-rated!" in the closing minutes.