UNCASVILLE, Conn. (AP) Notre Dame coach Mike Brey and Providence forward LaDontae Henton crossed paths outside the interview room at Mohegan Sun Arena Sunday.
''Fabulous game,'' Brey said as he shook Henton's hand. ''You've become a hell of a college player. Go win the Big East now.''
Henton scored a career-high 38 points and deflected a last-second shot by Notre Dame's Pat Connaughton as Providence defeated the Irish 75-74 in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Classic. In perhaps the best individual performance so far in this college basketball season, Henton made 14 of 19 shots from the field, including four 3-pointers, and hit the winning free throws with 14.8 seconds left.
''When the final buzzer went off, I had to recollect when LaDontae committed to us,'' said Providence coach Ed Cooley, in his fourth season with the Friars. ''He was our first recruit. I'm really, really proud of him. He's grown up. I've seen him become a man.''
Henton, a 6-6 senior forward from Lansing, Michigan, scored nine of the last 11 points for Providence (5-0). The winning free throws came after Henton drove the lane and drew the foul against Jerian Grant, who led Notre Dame (4-1) with 20 points.
Grant had given the Irish a 74-73 lead on a three-point play with 29.7 seconds left when he scored and was fouled by Tyler Harris (17 points).
The play that changed the momentum for the Friars came on Henton's dazzling, spin move in the lane. After a Notre Dame turnover by Zach Auguste (15 points), Providence guard Kris Dunn saved a long pass from going out of bounds. Dunn twisted an ankle diving out of bounds but flipped the ball back to Ben Bentil, who dished to Henton for the twisting score that tied the game at 66.
''That's my brother,'' Henton said of Dunn. ''For him to fight like that, it showed a lot of toughness for our team. It showed the young guys that we'll do whatever it takes to win. ... The leaders of the team believed in me. I was just doing whatever I could to help my team win.''
Notre Dame grabbed a 10-4 lead on a three-point play by Connaughton (13 points) with 16:18 left in the first half. But the Friars chipped away at that deficit until Harris finally gave Providence a 22-21 lead midway throughout the opening half.
Henton, who had 18 points on 6-of-9 shooting at halftime, made 3-pointers to give the Friars a 31-29 lead with 4:36 left and a 37-35 lead with 2:49 before the break.
Cooley said Henton had a ''senior moment'' that lasted the entire game.
''LaDontae is the most underrated kid in the country,'' Cooley said. ''He's got the `it.' He's got the leadership. I hope they still have him under the radar. There's nobody in the country I want next to me more than LaDontae Henton.''
Notre Dame: Through the first four games of the season, Jerian Grant was accounting for 40.4 percent (145 of 359 points) of the Irish offense. In Saturday's win over UMass, Grant was a part of 44 of 81 points, scoring a season-high 24 points and handing out eight assists that resulted in 20 points. Against Providence he had 20 points and five assists.
Providence: The Friars beat Notre Dame 85-83 in the first ever meeting between the two schools on Feb. 14, 1956. But Notre Dame entered Sunday's game with a 16-10 advantage in the series. The Irish had won 11 of the last 13 meetings between the former Big East Conference foes.
Notre Dame: hosts Grambling State on Wednesday.
Providence: hosts Yale on Friday.