Notre Dame was falling apart Thursday night.
With just over a minute left in the game, a jumper by guard Jeff Xavier gave Providence a 61-59 lead. The Irish hadn't scored in over six minutes, and it looked like the Friars would snag the first victory over the Irish in the Joyce Center in 32 games.
But the game wouldn't end without Luke Harangody having his say. With 18 seconds left, the Notre Dame sophomore stole a rebound from Providence forward Geoff McDermott and hit two free throws to send the game to overtime.
In the extra period, the Irish jumped out to an early lead and held off a furious Friars run to extend its home winning streak to 32 games, 81-74.
"We didn't want to lose, especially on our home court," Irish point guard Tory Jackson said. "If we could get it to overtime...we thought we would win."
Just seven minutes before Harangody's heroics, Notre Dame (15-4, 5-2 Big East) appeared to have the game in hand. They led 58-50 and junior guard Kyle McAlarney had just brought the home crowd to its feet with a slashing layup.
But that field goal was the last one the Irish would score in regulation. Providence went on an 11-1 run, capped by Xavier's shot with 1:08 remaining, to take the lead.
With 18 seconds left, Notre Dame found junior guard Ryan Ayers for an open three that would have given the Irish the lead and probably the win.
Ayers shot found nothing but iron, and McDermott grabbed the rebound. Harangody continued to harass him, however, and then somehow ended up with the ball.
"I was just standing right there, and I don't know if he lost it or what, but it ended up in my hands," Harangody said.
The Irish forward lent in for a layup and drew a foul, then nailed both free throws.
"It was a pressure situation," Harangody said. "I just had to have confidence."
The Friars (12-8, 3-5) had one last possession. With time running down, McDermott tried to hold for the winning shot, but Irish point guard Tory Jackson stole the ball. With two seconds left, Jackson's desperation heave caught front iron and the game headed to overtime.
In the extra frame, Notre Dame jumped on top quickly, going on a 14-5 run capped by a runner in the lane from Jackson to take a 75-66 lead with just under two minutes remaining.
Once again the Friars wouldn't go away. Guard Brian McKenzie nailed back-to-back NBA-range 3-pointers to get his team within three - but that was as close as Providence would get.
Harangody led all scorers with 31 points for Notre Dame. He also pulled down 14 rebounds.
Jackson, Ayers, and senior forward Rob Kurz were also in double figures for the Irish, with 14, 10, and 11 points respectively.
Kurz played the last 12 minutes of regulation and all of overtime with four fouls - but never fouled out.
"When you've played a lot of basketball, you know how to play without getting a stupid silly foul," he said.
Providence, who out-rebounded the Irish 48-38, including grabbing 22 off the offensive glass, was led by guard Dwain Williams, who had twenty points. McDermott, Xavier, and McKenzie each chipped in 10.
Harangody scored the first eight points of the game for Notre Dame, who opened up a 18-6 lead with 13:46 left in the first half.
Providence stormed back, going on a 15-3 run and taking the lead 22-21 with 6:50 left in the half on a 3-pointer by Williams.
Irish forward Zach Hillesland put the Irish back up by one with a jumper, but the Friars regained the lead on another 3-pointer, this time by guard Jeff Xavier.
The Friars held the lead until the last possession of the first half, when McAlarney hit backcourt teammate Tory Jackson with a perfect pass for a layup to give Notre Dame a 32-31 lead going into the locker room.
uAs part of the Joyce Center's "Camo Night," camouflage T-shirts were handed out to fans in the lower bowl. At halftime, sergeant first class John Adams was honored for his service in Iraq and a video was shown detailing Brey's trip to Kuwait over the summer for Operation Hardwood.
uNotre Dame freshman forward Carleton Scott was not in attendance at Thursday's game. Sports Information Director Bernie Cafarelli said Scott was at home recovering from the flu.
uBefore Thursday's contest, Notre Dame had not gone into overtime since March 20, 2006, an 87-84 loss at Michigan in the NIT.
The game was the first overtime contest at the Joyce Center since an 85-82 Irish loss to Georgetown on Jan. 24, 2006.
uThe win kept Notre Dame alone in second place in the Big East, 1 1/2 games behind conference leader Georgetown.
uNotre Dame will return to action Saturday night at 6 p.m. against DePaul at the Joyce Center. The Blue Demons are 9-11 on the year and 4-4 in the conference and are tied with West Virginia for 10th in the Big East.