Following Flynt - Victory on Senior Night

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Jack Cooley must have heard the criticism following his 2-point, 0-rebound night in Monday's loss to Georgetown. The junior forward responded in a big way, tallying 21 points and 10 boards in the first half alone, lifting Notre Dame to a 75-69 win over Providence in the regular season finale.

It was a special night at Purcell Pavilion, as Notre Dame honored seniors Tim Abromaitis and Scott Martin. Abromaitis and Martin applied for sixth and fifth years, respectively, but it remains to be seen how that plays out with the NCAA.

Abromaitis, who suffered a season-ending knee injury earlier this past fall, did not play, but suited up for the first time since November.

The Irish struggled offensively early, but held a three-point lead at the break, thanks to Cooley's dominant first half performance.

At halftime, Irish great Adrian Dantley became the fourth inductee into the Notre Dame Basketball Ring of Honor. The 1976 national college basketball player of the year and a member of the Naismith National Basketball Hall of Fame joined Ruth Riley, Luke Harangody and Austin Carr being recognized with the program's highest honor.

Notre Dame opened the second on a 26-5 run to build a 24-point lead over the first 10:05 of the half. The huge run was incredibly similar to last Wednesday's home game against West Virginia, when the Irish used a 28-7 run over the first 9:59 of the second half to open up a 23-point lead.

Providence battled back, using a 12-0 run to cut the lead. For a while, it looked like the Friars would not get much closer, but a late 10-1 run cut the lead to just six with under a minute to play.

Cooley led five players in double figures, finishing the night with 27 and 17. Martin added 11, while Alex Dragicevich (12), Eric Atkins (10) and Jerian Grant (12) also paced the Irish offensively.

In the closing minutes, the student section chanted "One more year" as Martin checked out of the game, and "Thank you Abro" as Abromaitis watched from the bench. Throughout their careers, Abromaitis and Martin have not only led the Irish on the court, but have also been exceptional representatives of the university, away from the game of basketball. Let's hope they'll be back for one more season.

With the win, Notre Dame closes out the regular season 21-10 and 13-5 in conference play. Head coach Mike Brey's squad locks up the #3 seed in next week's BIG EAST Tournament at Madison Square Garden and the Irish get a double-bye to Thursday's quarterfinals, where they will play at 9 pm ET on ESPN, against a to-be-determined opponent.

Stay tuned to UND.com and Irish UNDerground for more coverage from the Senior Night win, and follow the Irish right here as they head to the Big Apple next week.

- Josh Flynt ('11)

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