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Rally not enough for Irish at Pittsburgh

Matt Lozar | Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.

After the end of Monday’s 74-71 loss at Pittsburgh, Notre Dame guard Chris Thomas can relate to that old saying. He twice tried to draw a foul with pump fakes on 3-pointers, but couldn’t execute the move, resulting in no points for the Irish.

On defense when the Irish were down 67-66, Thomas fouled Pittsburgh guard Julius Page on a 3-pointer. At Villanova Saturday, Thomas hacked Villanova guard Allen Ray as he shot from behind the arc, but the Irish were up six and Thomas’ foul was not damaging.

But Monday, although Page only made 1-of-3 from the line, Pittsburgh forward Chevon Troutman out muscled Notre Dame forward Torin Francis for the rebound and tapped the loose ball to a teammate.

Thomas and Chris Quinn combined to make five 3-pointers in the last three minutes of the game to get the Irish from down nine at 63-54 to within one at 67-66 and down two at 71-69.

But it was Thomas’ two 3-point attempts coming off pump fakes, and, for the second straight game, his foul on an opponent’s 3-point shot that really hurt the Irish down the stretch.

It was a disappointing end for Thomas who had a solid all-around game. The junior finished with 29 points on 11-of-22 shooting, including 7-of-13 on 3-pointers.

Meanwhile, the Panthers, who shot 50 percent (11-of-22) from the free throw line, consistently beat the Irish to the loose ball off free throw misses and got a number of second chance points.

The win extended the Panthers’ (17-0, 3-0 in the Big East) home winning streak, the best in the nation, to 36 games and ended Notre Dame (8-4, 2-1) its first loss in seven games.

In a raucous Petersen Events Center where Pittsburgh has won all 30 games it has played, the Irish didn’t let themselves get taken out of the game early. Thomas scored 13 points in the opening 13 minutes.

The Irish held a seven-point lead with less than five minutes left in the first half, but they didn’t score the rest of the half. Luckily for the Irish, the Panthers only scored six more points as both teams didn’t score in the last 3:40 of the half. The Irish led 31-30 at the break.

Pittsburgh made its run down 46-42 with just over 12 minutes remaining in the game. Six different players scored on the Panthers’ 21-8 run that allowed them to hold a nine point lead before Thomas and Quinn tried to use 3-pointers to get the Irish back in it.

Indiana 66, Notre Dame 63

Little-used bench player Ryan Tapak hit a 3-pointer with 28 seconds left to lift the Hoosiers to extend Notre Dame’s losing streak to three games Dec. 10.

Thomas led the Irish, who shot only 39 percent, with 24 points.

Falls shot a 3-pointer with 2 seconds left, but his shot hit the rim and time expired.

Notre Dame 82, DePaul 69

In what a number of people called his best all-around game in a Notre Dame uniform, Thomas only scored 13 points, but had five assists, five rebounds, two steals and only one turnover in leading the Irish to their first win in over two weeks Dec. 14.

Cornette tied his career high with 17 points, and Notre Dame broke a shooting slump by making 51 percent of its field goals.

Notre Dame 78, American 74

The Irish overcame a hot-shooting night by American and avoided its second embarrassing home loss of the season Dec. 21.

American converted on 63 percent of its field goal attempts, including a stretch that saw the Eagles make 10 straight at one point. Thomas scored a season-high 28 points and the Irish won their first home game since Nov. 29.

Notre Dame 79, Quinnipiac 62

Quinn finally found the shooting touch he had been missing for most of the season, connecting on his first six 3-pointers and registering a career-high 25 points to lead the Irish to their third straight victory Dec. 23.

Francis recorded a double-double with 19 points and 11 rebounds.

Notre Dame 84, Morehead State 69

After missing his last nine shots against Quinnipiac, Thomas missed his first seven against Morehead State before finding the range and scoring 23 points Dec. 28. Francis had another double-double with 21 points and 10 rebounds.

The Irish were only up 74-67 with 4:32 remaining, but used a 10-2 run to put this one away.

Notre Dame 63, West Virginia 52

For the first time in Brey’s four years at Notre Dame, the Irish won its opening game in the Big East conference Jan. 7. In the process, the Irish ended Mountaineers’ guard Drew Schifino’s double-digit scoring streak at 48 games.

Jones was the major reason for ending Schifino’s streak. Jones also had his best all-around offensive game of the season, scoring 17 points and pulling down a career-high 13 rebounds.

Notre Dame 82, Villanova 78

The Irish broke another streak at Philadelphia in beating the Wildcats for the first time in Big East play Jan. 10. Villanova was the last team the Irish had not beaten in conference action.

Down six points with 3:31 to go, the Irish came back on a 12-2 run to get the win.