Hot Shooting Leads Irish to 1st Big East Win

The prospect of a 0-4 start in the Big East was staring the Notre Dame men's basketball team right in the face. Close losses to Pittsburgh, DePaul and Syracuse put the Irish in an almost "must-win" situation Saturday night in their game against Providence. Head coach Mike Brey said after the loss to the Orange that they would have to earn the victory.

Notre Dame responded in big fashion. Led by the hot shooting of Chris Quinn and another solid performance from Colin Falls, the Irish did earn that first conference win of the season by beating the Friars 92-77 at the Joyce Center. Quinn finished the night with 31 points and was complimented on the perimeter by Falls' 24 points, his third straight game of scoring 18 points or more. It was Notre Dame's third time in four conference games that they have topped the 80-point mark. The Irish (10-5, 1-3 in the Big East) were lights out shooting the ball for the game as they hit 56.9 percent from the field. They were even better from three-point range. Notre Dame connected on 13-of-21 (61 percent) from long distance to key the team's first league win.

"It was just good to get a win in Big East play," Quinn said, who shot 11-of-14 on the night and 5-of-7 from three-point range. "In our conference, it's a battle every night. Anytime you can get a win in the Big East, it's a good thing.

"We didn't press too much. We tried to remember that it's a long season. With the way the Big East is set up this season, a lot of things can happen. We were just focused on this game and getting better."

"I think that's how we've played offensively for four league games," head coach Mike Brey said. "One of the things I've talked about since the Syracuse game is that I don't want us to change at all offensively. I want to keep attacking. I told them at halftime I wanted to score 100. I like where we are offensively."

The Irish started quickly. Notre Dame jumped on Providence early and led 52-40 at halftime. It's the most points the Irish have scored in the first half this year. The previous high was the 46 points on the road against Alabama. The guard trio of Quinn, Falls and freshman Kyle McAlarney were mainly responsible for the offensive surge. The three combined to score 41 of the team's 52 points in the first half and did it on 13-of-16 shooting. Notre Dame shot 57 percent in the first half. McAlarney was a perfect 4-for-4 from the field, including 3-of-3 from behind the arc. The freshman's last three-pointer of the half gave the Irish their largest lead of the first half at 49-35. He finished the night with 12 points. Quinn totaled 17 points in the first 20 minutes of action.

The combination of Quinn and Falls continued to flourish in the second half. The duo proved too much for Providence to handle. The closest the Friars got in the second half was at 52-43. That was on Sharaud Curry's three-pointer on the opening possession of the half for Providence as Notre Dame steadily pulled away from the overmatched Providence team. A 9-2 run, keyed by two baskets by Quinn, increased a 10-point lead into a 63-46 margin as Providence never seriously threatened again. Senior Torin Francis missed out on a double-double but still pulled down eight rebounds to go along with 11 points. Notre Dame will next play on Friday in Milwaukee against Marquette.

"I told them before the game that the tone and theme is that we don't have to win," Brey said. "I wanted us to put numbers up like we've been putting numbers up and be a little better defensively than we have been. If you do that, we'll have a heck of a chance of winning."

The defense for the Irish was critical in shutting down the Friars' two main scoring threats. 6-11 big man Randall Hanke and guard Donnie McGrath came into the contest as Providence's leading point men, both averaging 15 PPG. Notre Dame did a number on the two, limiting Hanke, who was in foul trouble all game long, to just four points and McGrath to seven points on just 3-of-12 shooting. Curry led the Friars with 19 points while Weyinmi Efejuku added 18.

"They did a good job on Donnie," Friar head coach Tim Welsh said, who saw his team fall to 7-7 on the season and 0-3 in Big East play. "He gets their best looks every game. They did a lot of switching out on him. He had a tough shooting night. He's had a soft cast on his thumb all week. Randall has been out of practice all week with bronchitis. That's not an excuse. That's a fact. They both looked off their game.

"It wasn't about points tonight. I don't care who are leading scorer is. We needed to stop people tonight. That was our problem. If we got our average point total today, we still wouldn't have won the game."


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