Men’s Basketball: Irish top Saint John’s in Kurz’s final home game
Chris Khorey | Thursday, March 6, 2008
After giving up 90 points in its last two games, No. 19 Notre Dame managed to win one with defense.
The Irish held Saint John’s to 55 points in a 68-55 victory Wednesday, their 37th straight at the Joyce Center.
“We didn’t play well on offense, but that was probable our best defensive performance in the Big East season,” Irish senior forward said.
The win gave Notre Dame its second straight undefeated season at home – the first time in the program’s history that the team has accomplished that feat. The Irish also became the first ever Big East team to go two straight years without losing a home game.
Notre Dame came into Wednesday averaging over 80 points per game and giving up over 70. Saint John’s slowed down the pace and held the high-flying Irish well under their average, but the Red Storm shot just 41 percent from the field and needed stellar long range shooting from guard Anthony Mason, Jr. just to break 50 points.
Mason led Saint John’s with 16 points and hit four-of-eight from long range.
Irish guard Tory Jackson said Notre Dame managed to get its share of fast break points despite the slow pace. The Irish scored 20 points off turnovers.
“As a point guard, I try to get it to our tempo,” sophomore Tory Jackson said. “They were taking until there were five seconds left [on the shot clock] before making a move, but we stayed poised on defense.
“Once we got out and ran, Rob got his old body out there and flushed the ball.”
Playing in his final home game, Kurz scored 15 points and grabbed four rebounds. The lone Notre Dame senior and captain, who broke down crying in the locker room, was honored with a highlight video before the game and gave a few remarks afterward. He also got a standing ovation when he was subbed for with 17 seconds remaining.
“It’s been an unbelievable experience,” the tearful senior said. “You work your whole life to play college basketball and now its coming to an end.”
Sophomore forward Luke Harangody led the Irish with 20 points, and guard Kyle McAlarney added 13.
The Red Storm stayed right with the Irish early, taking a 7-6 lead into the first media timeout.
Notre Dame gave itself some breathing room before halftime with an 8-0 to go up 29-17 with 4:39 left before the break and take a 33-21 lead in the locker room.
Saint John’s scored the first four points after halftime, but the Irish responded with a 3-point play from Kurz and a 3-point shot for McAlarney to extend their lead to 39-25 with 15:38 to play.
Notre Dame led by as much as 16, but the Red Storm got back within 10 on a free-throw by guard Malik Boothe with 8:45 remaining that made it 52-42.
The Irish countered with a 9-4 run to go up 61-46 with 3:46 left and cruised to victory.
-The game was very physical. Harangody suffered a gash on his chin, Kurz had bruises all over both arms and Jackson skinned his knee and ended up with blood on his shorts.
-Saint John’s out-rebounded Notre Dame 31-29. The Irish did not have an offensive rebound in the first half.
-With Notre Dame students on Spring Break, the Clay High School Pep Band provided musical entertainment.
-The Irish will finish their Big East regular season Sunday against South Florida in Tampa, Fla.