The Providence Friars had one heck of a weekend.
After completely dismantling the Florida State Seminoles in the first round of the Hall of Fame Tip-Off, the Friars parlayed it a day later by beating the Notre Dame Fighting Irish 75 to 74. It wasn’t the same dominating performance, but it may have been even more impressive.
Providence went into the locker room at halftime with a four point lead, but the second half was extremely back and forth. Notre Dame went up as many as eight with just over four minutes to play, but the Friars battled back in gritty fashion for the win.
LaDontae Henton followed up his 24 point, 10 rebound game against the Seminoles with a 38 point outburst today. The senior hit clutch shot after clutch shot and didn’t blink when Jerian Grant was doing the same for his team on the other end. Henton had 9 of the last 11 points for the Friars while Grant has the Irish’s last 8. Henton’s free throws with 14 seconds left gave his team the lead for good.
The Friars shot 56% as a team from the field, as well as 13 of 14 from the charity stripe. This slightly outdid Notre Dame, who shot 50% from the field. Tyler Harris also had a solid day with 17 points for the defending Big East Tournament champions.
What made today’s win so impressive is the fact that Kris Dunn missed much of the game due to foul trouble. This forced Ed Cooley to rely on Kyron Cartwright to play point guard for the last eight minutes of the first half and much of the second. While Cartwright did make some mistakes and his numbers were unflattering, he ably did the job running the Friar offense and got great experience going forward.
This Notre Dame team is good. They were in Gary Parrish’s Top 25 (and 1) at number 26 going into today. With guards like Grant and Demetrius Jackson the Irish will be in contention for a bid throughout the year. They had a 13 point win over a solid Massachusetts Minutemen team in the semifinal.
Beating two quality ACC teams in as many days is a great start to the Friar’s resume. They have shown their ability to score the ball and clearly have a go-to scorer in Henton. This is another positive step for the whole Big East in proving they are still one of the strongest basketball leagues in the country. Ed Cooley and his team will play Yale on Friday before traveling to Lexington for a showdown against the number one Kentucky Wildcats on Sunday, November 30th.