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Notre Dame men’s basketball: Falls breaks record in win

Chris Hine | Monday, February 19, 2007

Irish guard Colin Falls scored 23 points and broke Notre Dame’s career 3-point record as the Irish reached 20 wins Sunday for the first time in four seasons with a 76-64 victory in Cincinnati.

Falls netted 5-of-8 threes to boost his career total to 305, surpassing former guard Chris Thomas (302) for the school mark.

“It’s a great accomplishment. There have been a lot of great shooters in Notre Dame’s past,” Falls said. “I’ve had a lot of great point guards that have gotten me the ball in positions where I could make a lot of shots.”

Sophomore forward Ryan Ayers, who saw significant playing time in place of injured guard Russell Carter, shot 4-of-4 from beyond the arc to finish with a career-high 12 points.

“That’s something we’ve been waiting on him to do,” Irish forward Zach Hillesland said. “We see in practice everyday that he’s got a great stroke. He’s a very good shooter. That’s something we want him to do, if he’s open or even if he’s a little bit contested … because he’s a long guy and can get the shot off against any other perimeter player.”

Ayers and Falls contributed to Notre Dame’s (20-6, 8-5 Big East) 13-of-20 performance from 3-point land.

Carter, who has been nursing a hip flexor injury over the past few weeks, finished with only three points in limited minutes.

“Once he gets back and he’s healthy, we’ll be hitting on all cylinders,” Falls said. “It’s huge for guys like Ayers to step up when he’s not in the lineup.”

Trailing 37-30 at halftime, the Bearcats (10-16, 1-11 Big East) could only get as close as four in the second half. Twice in the frame, Cincinnati scored four straight points and picked up some momentum, but Falls came down and knocked down 3-pointers – giving the Irish some breathing room and quieting the sold-out crowd of 11,038 at the Fifth Third Arena.

“It’s very fitting that [Falls] broke the record here because every one of those shots had a lot riding on it,” Irish coach Mike Brey said.

Bearcat forward John Williamson matched Falls’ game-high 23 points and guard Deonta Vaughn pitched in 22 for Cincinnati.

The Bearcats utilized backcourt zone pressure on the Irish for much of the second half, but could not create enough turnovers to give them the lead.

“We were patient and took our time,” Hillesland said. “A press like that is designed to make you go faster than you want to. They were quick, so it was just a matter of taking our time.”

Irish forward Luke Harangody gave the Irish a lift inside. The freshman scored eight in the second half, finishing with 11 points and eight rebounds for the game.

“I just felt like I had good position down low on the block and I could get my shot off – and I did,” Harangody said.

In the first half, Notre Dame used 3-pointers from Falls and guards Tory Jackson and Jonathan Peoples to open up a 20-11 lead at 11:43. Cincinnati cut the lead to 22-18, but never got ahead.

The victory lifted Notre Dame into a four-way tie for fourth place in the Big East with Marquette, West Virginia and Syracuse. The Irish own tiebreakers over the Orange and the Mountaineers, and face Marquette next Saturday at home.

Notre Dame returns Tuesday to the Joyce Center to take on DePaul. The Blue Demons bested the Irish 67-66 in Chicago Feb. 8.