ND Men’s Basketball: Busted Streaks
Douglas Farmer | Tuesday, January 25, 2011
No. 14 Notre Dame entered Monday night with two disheartening streaks on its mind: its own season-long three-game road losing streak and second-ranked Pittsburgh’s 20-game home-winning streak. A 56-51 Irish victory quickly reversed both runs, handing the Panthers only their 12th loss at home in the past nine seasons.
“We have had good wins … We’ve probably not had a better win,” Irish coach Mike Brey said in his postgame interview. “Coming here, not having had a good win on the road, to play this team there … To stay mentally tough and to stay with our plan, I’m really proud of our group.”
Senior guard Ben Hansbrough led all scorers with 19 points, even though he missed his first five 3-pointers of the night. With Notre Dame (17-4, 6-3 Big East) down two points midway through the second half, Hansbrough fired his sixth long-range attempt of the night. Suddenly, the Irish led 42-41 in Petersen Events Center.
“Ben, again, I don’t know how he does it physically after what he did Saturday night,” Brey said, referencing Hansbrough’s 39-minute effort in Notre Dame’s 80-75 victory over Marquette. “To come back and handle the ball, and then to guard [Pittsburgh’s leading scorer Ashton] Gibbs all night, and play the whole game.”
Hansbrough held Gibbs nearly seven points below his season average and added seven assists and four rebounds to his own totals. Notre Dame’s last eight points from the floor came courtesy of Hansbrough, who logged 39 minutes, including a two-minute span in which he scored on three straight Irish possessions, capped with a lay-up at the 2:34 mark to put Notre Dame up 53-49.
Senior guard Scott Martin added a free throw to give Notre Dame a five-point lead, boosting his tally to 10 points, and Hansbrough broke loose for one last lay-up with only 19 seconds on the clock to provide the Irish their winning margin.
Senior forward Carleton Scott added 16 points, carried by a five-of-six performance from behind the 3-point line, along with nine rebounds.
After losing the previous three road games by a total of 52 points, Brey opted to utilize Notre Dame’s ‘Burn’ offense against Pittsburgh (19-2, 7-1). The slow-paced offense reduced the number of possessions each team had, and it limited Pittsburgh’s advantages in both athleticism and bench-depth.
“I think one of the reasons we weren’t very good on the road, I don’t think I was very good on the road,” Brey said. “I think the key was we defended and defensive rebounded in the last five minutes of the game when we had to.”
Forward Gilbert Brown led Pittsburgh with 13 points, followed by guard Brad Wanamaker’s 12 points.
The Irish have more than a week off before heading to DePaul on Feb. 3.