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Notre Dame holds off Providence

Mar 3, 2012 - 4:20 AM South Bend, IN (Sports Network) - Jack Cooley had 27 points and 17 rebounds on Friday, leading No. 20 Notre Dame to a 75-69 win over Providence in the regular season finale for both teams.

Alex Dragicevich added 12 points while Scott Martin had 11 for the Fighting Irish (21-10, 13-5 Big East). They halted a two-game slide and clinched a double-bye and the No. 3 seed in the upcoming conference tournament.

"I'm very proud of our group to finish third in the regular season in this league and secure a double bye," said Notre Dame coach Mike Brey. "It's a heck of an achievement for this group."

LaDontae Henton had 18 points and 12 rebounds for the Friars (15-16, 4-14), who saw their two-game win streak come to an end. They next play on Tuesday, in the Big East Tournament's first round.

Vincent Council and Gerard Coleman added 17 and 15 points, respectively, in the setback.

Notre Dame led by as many as 25 in the second half and was up 68-53 with under three minutes to play when Coleman scored eight straight points to lead a 10-1 Providence run.

His layup with 55 seconds left made it 69-63, but the Irish made 6-of-8 free throws to seal their ninth straight win over the Friars.

"I am very proud of the resiliency of our guys," said Friars coach Ed Cooley. "They showed some fight. I think that Providence is a tough team. I think that we are a team that not many teams are going to want to face in the upcoming tournament."

Earlier, the Irish took a 31-28 lead into the break after a back-and-forth first half.

In the second, they took control, opening with an 11-3 burst to claim a decisive double-digit advantage.

Pat Connaughton, Cooley, Eric Atkins and Martin all scored during the balanced run before Jerian Grant capped it with a three-pointer to put Notre Dame on top, 42-31.

Henton responded with a pair of free throws for the Friars, but a 15-0 Irish surge ensued.

Atkins got it started with a three-point play and later added a layup before Tom Knight's dunk made it 57-33 near the midway point.

Game Notes

This was the only meeting of the season between the teams...Notre Dame leads the all-time series, 16-9...Prior to their two-game losing streak, the Irish had won a program-record nine straight Big East games...Notre Dame shot 47.3 percent, compared to 39.4 percent for Providence.