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Updated: Tuesday, January 21, 2003 11:45 PM EST
NCAA BASKETBALL RECAP
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(12) Notre Dame 71, Providence 65
NOTRE DAME FIGHTING IRISH
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
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PROVIDENCE FRIARS
Providence Friars
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PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island (Ticker) -- Chris Thomas scored 23 points and Matt Carroll added 21 as No. 12 Notre Dame defeated Big East foe Providence, 71-65, for their third straight conference victory.

Freshman Torin Francis contributed 13 points and eight boards for the Fighting Irish (15-3, 3-1 Big East West Division), who committed just nine turnovers to bounce back from Saturday's loss to Kentucky.

Against the Wildcats, Thomas alone turned the ball over nine times.

After the Friars pulled within 64-62 on two free throws by freshman Donnie McGrath with 2:28 left, Thomas sank two free throws and Jordan Cornette sank a jumper with 1:40 to go for a 68-62 bulge.

Marcus Douthit countered with a tip-in and Ryan Gomes added a free throw to cut it to 68-65 with 14 seconds remaining, but Carroll drained three free throws in the final 12 seconds to ice the win.

Gomes had 21 points and 13 boards and McGrath added 16 points for Providence (9-7, 2-3 East), which suffered its second straight loss.

The victory was the first on the road this season for Notre Dame, which previously lost at Pittsburgh and Kentucky.

The Fighting Irish shot 43 percent (23-of-54) from the field, including a 4-of-19 performance from 3-point range. They did major damage from the foul line, hitting 21-of-25. Carroll was 9-of-11 from the stripe.

The Friars scored the game's first seven points and led by as many as eight in the first half. Notre Dame took its first lead 6:45 into the game on a layup by Torrian Jones.

Providence held a 34-33 halftime lead, but fell behind for good when Carroll knocked down a 3-pointer 2:40 into the second half to give the Irish a 38-36 edge.

That shot ignited a 10-2 run that culminated in a dunk by Thomas for a 45-38 lead with just over 14 minutes to go.

The margin never got wider than seven before the Friars mounted a comeback. Down 59-52 after Carroll's 3-pointer with 5:55 to go, Gomes and McGrath each scored four points as Providence whittled the deficit down to 64-62. That was as close as the Friars would get.

Providence shot 39 percent (22-of-57) from the floor. It hit half (13-of-26) its shots in the first half before going ice cold in the second half, sinking only 29 percent.

The Irish improved to 15-0 when their opponent shoots under 50 percent.


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