Men’s Basketball: Irish suffer first loss of season
Bobby Griffin | Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Irish guard Russell Carter missed a contested 3-pointer from the right elbow with 2.8 seconds remaining and Notre Dame fell 71-69 to Butler Monday in the first round of the NIT Season Tip-Off at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Ind.
With 10 seconds left in regulation, Notre Dame called a timeout to set up its final possession following Butler guard A.J. Green’s 3-pointer, which gave the Bulldogs a two-point lead with a little over a minute remaining.
“On the final play, it was a read and we were looking to get an open shot,” Carter said. “We practiced this in practice yesterday, but in today’s game Butler switched defensively and we couldn’t get the open shot we wanted.”
Notre Dame had its chances to take the lead in the final minute before Carter’s shot. Sophomore Kyle McAlarney missed a layup with 1:04 remaining, and while freshman Luke Harangody grabbed the offensive rebound, he couldn’t convert on the put back.
Green secured the rebound, but on the ensuing possession center Julian Betko was whistled for a traveling violation with 28 seconds remaining – ultimately setting up the final Notre Dame possession.
“We are a team of eight freshman and sophomores,” Irish coach Mike Brey said after the game. “We were a fragile team if it is safe to say. This was a tough atmosphere coming to Indianapolis, playing Butler. It was definitely a road game.”
The Irish trailed 31-27 at the break and came out firing in the early minutes of the second half. Notre Dame went on a quick 10-0 run to take a six-point lead – led offensively by guard Colin Falls, who had five points in that stretch.
Falls finished with 17 points on 5-of-11 shooting, including nine of Notre Dame’s final 15 points.
But following a McAlarney 3-pointer that made the score 37-31, guard Mike Green (19 points, 12 assists) answered back with five quick points. The two teams traded baskets for the remainder of the second half – until Graves’ eventual game-winning three.
“I was just trying to get to an open spot,” Graves said. “Just try to play the role I am playing. They are a good defensive team. It was a fight to get open.”
Carter provided an offensive spark for the Irish – particularly in the second half during Notre Dame’s comeback – finishing with 16 points on 6-of-13 shooting and five rebounds.
On one stretch, he hit a 3-pointer, forced a steal on Butler’s ensuing possession and then finished on the other end with a dunk.
Harangody had his fourth consecutive productive game – including Notre Dame’s two preseason contests – finishing with 17 points on 7-of-13 shooting and 10 rebounds.
“Luke [Harangody] was like a man out there,” Brey said. “He made his free throws and he was just tough all around.”
McAlarney finished with eight points on 3-of-7 shooting and four assists. Forward Rob Kurz added seven points, six rebounds and six assists in 34 minutes.
This was the first time all season Notre Dame was tested in a close game. In the team’s two exhibition games, the Irish easily handled their opponents with a 79-44 win against Rockhurst and an 85-57 victory over Bellarmine.
In its regular season opener, Notre Dame controlled IPFW from the beginning, scoring 55 first half points and winning 92-49.
“We are going to use this game as a learning opportunity,” Brey said.
Notre Dame will play Lafayette in the consolation game of the four-team tournament that includes Indiana tonight in Indianapolis. The Hoosiers easily handled the Leopards 91-66 Monday night.