Men’s Basketball: Pushing past the Pirates
Eric Prister | Monday, February 28, 2011
On a night honoring Notre Dame’s all-time leading scorer, the Irish struggled to put the ball in the hoop. But 43 combined points from seniors Ben Hansbrough and Tim Abromaitis pushed them to a 60-48 win over Seton Hall Saturday at the Purcell Pavilion.
“We had Austin [Carr] in the locker room, and I told him that I don’t think I’ve ever had more pressure for one game,” Irish coach Mike Brey said. “When we bring him back to put him up there, I really felt that I better win this game or I won’t hear the end of it for the rest of my career. So we found a way to get out of there with a win.”
The Irish shot only 40 percent from the floor and 64 percent from the free-throw line against the Pirates, scoring 15 fewer points than their 75 points per game average.
“We never really got into a flow offensively,” Hansbrough said. “As bad as we were defensively, they didn’t really score on us a lot. But we never really got into a solid flow except for some spurts in the second half.”
Down as many as 11 with 2:55 left in the first half, the Irish scored the last six points of the period, including a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Abromaitis that cut the Pirates’ lead to three going into the break.
“I think everybody was so ready to play, that sometimes you get too up for a game,” Hansbrough said. “You go out there, and people aren’t moving and people aren’t flowing because you’re so ready to play that you kind of lose your focus a little
After Seton Hall senior forward Jeff Robinson made a layup, was fouled and made his free throw on the first possession of the second half, the Irish went on a 13-0 run from which they never looked back.
“I think we had our worst first half of the year, but I think that happens,” Hansbrough said. “It’s not about how you start but how you finish sometimes, and we came out in the second half really focused, and it showed.
“I think [the problem] was our offensive flow, because when we did start flowing, we started to get layups at the bucket, 3-pointers, rebounds, and I thought we just found a way to win tonight.”
Robinson and fellow senior Jeremy Hazell led the Pirates in scoring with 16 points and 14 points, respectively. Seton Hall shot only 30 percent from the floor and 26 percent in the second half.
“The second half I thought we were better defensively and more efficient offensively,” Brey said. “In the first half, I didn’t think we did enough tough stuff defensively, and maybe that’s because we didn’t make some shots and hung our head a little. We were very fortunate to only be down three at half. We kind of found our identity in the last 20 minutes, and that’s a great win for us, because human nature is human nature through the course of five months, so I’m proud of us that we maybe learned a lesson a little inexpensively.”
The win over Seton Hall makes Notre Dame a perfect 16-0 at the Purcell Pavilion this season with one home game left, tonight’s contest against No. 14 Villanova. Despite the possibility of finishing the season undefeated at home, Hansbrough said he does not want to think about it.
“It would mean a lot to us, but hey, we haven’t done it yet, so we can’t even talk about it yet,” he said.
The Irish and Wildcats will tip off tonight at 7 p.m. The game will be broadcast on ESPN.