Providence knocks out Notre Dame
By KATHLEEN O'BRIEN
Assistant Sports Editor
Providence's junior college transfer Donta Wade shot the lights out Wednesday, breaking Big East records for 3-point goals made and attempted. In the process, he burst a hole through Notre Dame's hopes of qualifying for the NCAA tournament.
Wade knocked down 10 3-pointers on the way to scoring a career-high 38 points. He nearly single-handedly defeated the Irish, as the Friars (10-16, 3-10 Big East) upset the Irish 89-79.
"We didn't expect Wade to shoot the ball so well," Notre Dame head coach Matt Doherty said. "One of the things they've struggled with this year is shooting. He certainly didn't struggle tonight."
Wade, who only averages 6.8 points per game, started the Friars off in scoring with a soft-touch 3-pointer. Within the first seven minutes of play, he added 11 more points to put the Friars ahead, 20-5.
"Very rarely do you see a guy like Wade come out and shoot the way he did tonight with 10 3-pointers," Notre Dame sophomore Troy Murphy said.
After hitting bottom at 15 points behind, the Irish began working their way back into the contest.
Friars' forward Erron Maxey fouled Murphy, who nailed two free throws. Irish freshman Matt Carroll aced in a 3-pointer to get the crowd fired up. Freshman Ivan Kartelo hit a bucket from behind the free-throw line to narrow the scoring gap to eight.
But it seemed that Wade stepped up every time the Irish began closing in on the Friars. This time he swished a 17-footer to put Providence ahead by double-digits once more.
"Certainly he clicked into high gear tonight," Providence head coach Tim Welsh said. "I think the whole arena sensed his confidence. I just told him to keep pulling the trigger until you go cold, and obviously, he never did."
Notre Dame kept up its trademark zone defense, despite its inability to contain Wade.
"That zone's been pretty good to us," Doherty said. "[Wade] was the only one who was really shooting the ball well from the outside. The thing that was disappointing to me was them getting into the paint."
The scoring gap fluctuated between seven and 13 for the rest of the half, as Providence headed into half-time leading Notre Dame, 42-33. Murphy's 15 first-half points, coupled with Carroll's nine, kept the Irish in the game, but their efforts could not match those of Wade and Maxey, who scored 19 and 12, respectively.
In the second half, the Irish dropped to 11 points down on a 3-pointer by Friars' Abdul Mills.
Then they started climbing back into contention. Freshman Jere Macura made one of two free throws. On a Friars' missed shot, the Irish came down with the rebound, and the next time down the court, freshman Mike Monserez dropped a trey.
With Providence leading 52-45, the two teams exchanged lay-ups.
Then Notre Dame kept moving one point closer. Sophomore Harold Swanagan made one of two free throws for the Irish. Mills hit a deuce for Providence, but Notre Dame point guard Jimmy Dillon made his first three of the night.
With Notre Dame trailing just 56-51 with less than 11 minutes to go, the crowd at the Joyce Center rose to its feet. The fans quickly sat down as the Irish began to self-destruct. By the time the clock sunk to six minutes remaining, Wade had drilled in three more treys, and the Irish had fallen behind 69-52.
"That can be a dagger in your heart," Welsh said. "It's like the pin goes into the balloon and it's deflating."
Murphy scored six points in the next 2:14, but Wade added another three to keep Notre Dame at bay.
The Irish were forced to foul in an attempt to recover possession, and the rest of the Friars' points all came at the charity stripe.
Macura and Graves did their best to score as Murphy struggled behind the Friars' defensive pressure. Macura scored six points, two at the free throw line. Graves appeared from nowhere. Scoreless with 1:48 to go, he hit five 3-pointers, but it was too little, too late, as the Irish lost their third home game of the season.
"It's a tough place to come in and win," Welsh said. "The wins have come so far and few between this year. The feeling in the locker room tonight is like we're a team going to the NCAA tournament."
Notre Dame headed into its match against Providence on a hot streak after wins over two ranked conference teams — Connecticut and Seton Hall.
"I don't think it's because we were felling good about ourselves," Doherty said. "It was their night; it wasn't our night. And it results in a 10-point loss at home."
All Sports Stories for Thursday, February 24, 2000