Arc, Lethargy Level Irish

No-show Notre Dame plays poorly from start to finish in convincing 71-54 loss at favored Providence.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Providence played its best while the Irish, predictably, their worst as the Friars rode a ridiculous advantage from long range to take down #21 Notre Dame, 71-54 at the Dunkin Donuts Center Saturday afternoon.

The fired-up Friars used an 11-2 run bisecting the game's halves to stretch a two-point lead to 11, 39-28. Providence assisted on 19 of its first 23 field goals and hit nine of their first 14 three-point shots to help build a 20-point edge, 59-39, midway through the second stanza.

Notre Dame didn't hit its first three-pointer until just over nine minutes remained in the contest, beginning 0-8. The Friars entered the contest as the Big East's best team defending the arc, holding foes to just 29 percent. Notre Dame entered leading the conference with 39 percent accuracy from long range but hit just one of 14 attempts, none of consequence.

Winners of four straight including two vs. ranked foes and two on the road, Providence was favored (-1.5) for a reason -- they looked much better than the Irish, previous winners of five of their last six and, prior to the contest, within a game of first in the muddled Big East.

Whether it was dead legs from six overtimes over their last two games, a collective foot speed disadvantage, or merely a lack of comparable desire, Notre Dame was decidedly slower and less impressive than their hosts from start to finish.

Providence led by as many as 24 points, 65-41, midway through the second stanza and out-rebounded the bigger visitors, 38-30 including a 15-9 edge on the offensive glass.

Senior center Jack Cooley led Notre Dame with 12 points and 11 rebounds but was outplayed by Providence senior forward Kadeem Betts. Betts hit for 20 points on 10 of 16 shooting, connecting on a variety of post moves and mid-range shots.

Tom Knight added 11 for the Irish including his team's first seven points. Notre Dame's four big men accounted for 22 of the team's 26 first half points with freshman forward Cam Biedscheid the only Irish player under 6'9" to hit a field goal in the first half.

Neither of Notre Dame's veteran guards, Jerian Grant or Eric Atkins hit a field in the opening stanza. Grant scored his first basket at the 15:51 mark of the second with Atkins scoring a minute later, but not until the Friars had built a 15-point edge.

The Irish (20-6, 8-5) had won nine straight vs. the Friars, last losing in South Bend in February 2004. Providence (14-11, 6-7) last won four straight in 2004 as well; that squad marking the last edition of Friars to qualify for the NCAA Tournament.

Senior guard Vincent Council became Providence's all-time assists leader during the contest, passing Friars legend Ernie DiGregorio, who set the previous mark of 662 in just three seasons.

Council finished with 11 assists but it was his backcourt mate Bryce Cotton who stole the show on the perimeter, hitting 8 of 14 shots for 19 points to augment Betts' effort.

The surging Friars will travel to Syracuse for a February 20 matchup vs. the Orange. Notre Dame goes from Rhode Island to Pittsburgh (8-4) for a nationally televised battle vs. the Panthers on ESPN, 7 p.m. (ET) Monday night. The Panthers first face fellow conference contender Marquette (8-3) Saturday afternoon in Milwaukee. Top Stories