MEN’S BASKETBALL: Harris jumper beats Irish
Pat Leonard | Monday, December 5, 2005
Michigan guard Dion Harris sank a corner jump shot with 17 seconds remaining to take a 69-67 lead and send the Wolverines to a 71-67 victory in the Joyce Center Saturday afternoon, despite Notre Dame’s attempt at its own late-game heroics.
Irish point guard Chris Quinn scored 26 points, including Notre Dame’s final 15 of the game, but his floater inside the lane with four seconds on the clock rimmed out.
The Irish (2-2) lost their second straight after falling to North Carolina State, 61-48, on Nov. 26.
“That one [miss] at the end hurts a lot, especially coming off where our team was last week,” Quinn said. “But I think this was a lot better effort [than we had last game] as far as a team effort.”
Irish coach Mike Brey made adjustments with spacing on the offensive end of the floor to free up more scoring chances and create better flow. Notre Dame benefited by scoring 19 more points than it had in its previous outing and by returning to an inside-out mentality – at first.
Center Torin Francis scored 26 points on 8-of-16 shooting, grabbing 13 rebounds and making 6-of-7 free throws. Notre Dame fed Francis early, and he scored seven of the team’s first 11 points.
But again, as in the loss to North Carolina State, the opposing defense forced the ball away from the post and into the hands of Notre Dame’s guards. And Michigan point guard Daniel Horton (7-of-14, seven assists) scored 13 of his 19 points in the second half in addition to a drive-and-kick assist that led to Harris’ shot.
“I told them [after the game] I think we’re better than last week,” Brey said. “It stings, and it should sting tonight and for a while. But we were fearless. We did some fearless stuff today, and some new faces did it.”
Notre Dame’s offense became one-dimensional in the game’s final 10 minutes.
Freshman guard Kyle McAlarney converted a driving layup to tie the game at 52 with 8:17 remaining, and Quinn would be the only Irish player to score the remainder of the game.
The Irish led 65-60 on a Quinn 3-pointer with 3:03 to go. But Wolverines forward Graham Brown (13 points, 10 rebounds) scored a 3-point play off an assist from point guard Daniel Horton, who plagued Notre Dame in the second half, and Michigan was within two.
Quinn sank two free throws to stretch the lead to four with 2:19 remaining, but Brown made a layup and a tip-in on consecutive possessions to tie it at 67. Notre Dame freshman Luke Zeller, who had sank 2-of-3 shots from behind the arc in the game already, missed a 3-point attempt that gave Michigan the ball, which then led to the game-winning jumper.
Irish guard Russell Carter was guarding Horton across halfcourt when Brey called for a 2-3 zone, intending to force Horton as a ball handler out of a 1-on-1 situation.
Quinn stepped out to meet Horton and jumped to tip the pass to the corner, but no one remained in the corner to contest Harris.
“We wanted to cheat a little bit, and [Horton] made a senior play,” Brey said.
Notre Dame had limited Horton and Harris, two experienced seniors, to 11 total shots in the first half. But the Irish even went to a box-and-one defense at points in the second half to contain Horton, with Quinn and freshman guard Kyle McAlarney sharing the responsibilities as primary defender.
“We just tried to do anything to slow Horton down,” Brey said. “It made somebody else make a play for them, instead of him making a play like he did at the end of the game.”
While Horton and Harris (12) combined for 31 points, Quinn received no help from his mate in the starting backcourt, Colin Falls. Falls did not get open all game and attempted only three shots, missing all of them.
Falls’ silence on the offensive end also contributed to Notre Dame’s shooting 0-for-10 on 3-pointers in the first half, only the second time the Irish have not hit a first-half three during Brey’s tenure. The last time was a 63-52 win over West Virginia on Jan. 7, 2004.
Notre Dame started the game quicker than the initially sluggish Wolverines, who missed six of their first seven shots and committed unforced turnovers. The Irish scored 18 points in the paints in that half but did not pull away further than eight with 11:59 remaining in the half.
Michigan scored seven straight points out of a TV timeout at the 3:50 mark to make the score 27-25. And McAlarney sank two free throws before half to go into the locker room with a 27-27 tie.
Notre Dame is now 7-14 all-time against Michigan.
u Quinn’s first of two free throws with 5:42 remaining made him the 44th player in program history to reach 1,000-points in his career. Francis is on his way to becoming No. 45, since his 22 points on Saturday increased his career total to 985 – just 15 points shy.