Men’s Basketball: At home, on track
Matt Gamber | Thursday, January 20, 2011
The return of senior forward Carleton Scott from a hamstring injury helped lift No. 16 Notre Dame to a much-needed victory Wednesday, as the Irish snapped a two-game skid by beating No. 25 Cincinnati, 66-58, at the Purcell Pavilion.
Scott, who had missed the previous four games for Notre Dame (15-4, 4-3 Big East), came off the bench to a chorus of cheers with 14:30 to play in the first half. He promptly made a 3-pointer that sparked a 10-0 run to give the Irish a 16-6 lead, which they never relinquished.
“[Scott] came off the bench and gave everyone a lift,” Irish coach Mike Brey said. “He was a key for us tonight. Just his presence on the court as a leader and a voice really helped the rest of his teammates.”
Scott finished with six points in 15 minutes. Seniors Tyrone Nash and Ben Hansbrough each scored 13 points to lead a balanced Notre Dame attack that saw all five starters score in double figures.
The Irish shot 45.5 percent from the field and 50 percent (7-for-14) from beyond the arc after shooting less than 20 percent in road losses to Marquette and St. John’s last week. The free-throw line was also friendly to Notre Dame, as the Irish made 19 of their 24 free throws while allowing the Bearcats (16-3, 3-3) only eight free-throw attempts.
“We understand what it takes to win in this league,” said Hansbrough, who struggled from the field (1-for-8) but made 11 of 12 free throw attempts. “You’re going to get your butt beat sometimes, but when you come back at home, you especially have to be able to regroup and get your team back together. That’s what we did tonight.”
Notre Dame led 33-19 at the half and extended that lead to 17 points midway through the second half. Cincinnati trailed 57-44 with 2 ½ minutes to play before an 8-0 Bearcats run that included 3s by Larry Davis and Dion Dixon and a pair of Irish turnovers.
That cut the Irish lead to 57-52 with 1:18 to play, but Hansbrough drew fouls on consecutive possessions and made all four free throws, helping Notre Dame to a 61-53 lead with 45 seconds to play. Freshman guard Eric Atkins (11 points) and senior forward Tim Abromaitis (12 points) each made a pair of free throws, and Hansbrough made one of two, to finish off the Bearcats.
Notre Dame next turns its attention to Saturday’s home game against Marquette, which beat the Irish 79-57 in Milwaukee on Jan. 10.
“I think the focus is going to be on a group that really thumped us not too long ago and I’m sure they will be coming after us again,” Brey said. “[Marquette] played the best defense against us all year with St. John’s a close second. They’re going to come in ready to harass us.”