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Notre Dame Gets a Rare Road Win

Feb 21, 2009 – 2:43 PM
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Chas Rich

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Nothing like having two defensively challenged teams facing each other to provide entertaining -- if one-dimensional -- basketball. Notre Dame and Providence offered just that as the Fighting Irish got only their second Big East road win, 103-84.

Both teams were looking for a big win to get them into the bubble argument. Providence may be over .500 in the Big East, but they have just three wins against teams in the top half of the conference. Notre Dame lost a lot in a brutal Big East stretch. They especially show incompetence on the road, so they need anything away from South Bend to help their case.

In this game, the big difference was on the perimeter. While both teams shot well overall, Notre Dame was 13-for-28 on threes, while Providence was only 5-for-22. The Irish got a huge game from Ryan Ayers, who was able to go off for 28 points and was wide open on three point shots most of the game. Luke Harangody was more efficient than he usually is, which helped compensate for his limited minutes. Harangody was plagued by foul issues that limited him to only 24 minutes.

Providence was hurt by Geoff McDermott and Jeff Xavier, who were only 6-for-20, which hardly complimented the great effort of Sharaud Curry and Weyinmi Efejuku, who combined for 54 points on 18-for-29 shooting. As usual with Providence, though, their inability to get stops ultimately killed them. Providence has some very nice individual players, but just do not put the effort on defense. First-year coach Keno Davis will definitely have to change that if the Friars are ever going to be more than a middling team in the Big East.

As for Notre Dame, they still have a chance at the NCAA Tournament. They get to 6-8 in the Big East with four games left. They have three of the four at home. They need to win all three of the home wins. The road game is at UConn, so the odds are more than a little stacked against the Irish in that game. At 9-9, they would be right on the bubble come Selection Sunday.
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