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Wolverines upend Irish 61-60

Pat Leonard | Monday, December 6, 2004

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – The crowd at Crisler Arena was at a whisper with 11 minutes remaining Saturday.

By the eight-minute mark, it was at a roar.

No. 20/19 Notre Dame relinquished a 10-point lead and Michigan guard Daniel Horton scored all 15 of his points in the second half as the Irish fell to the host Wolverines (4-3, 0-0 in the Big Ten), 61-60.

“Where you’re disappointed is in game situations,” Irish coach Mike Brey said. “But I like how our team played in a tough atmosphere today, and I think it’s something we can really build on.”

Notre Dame (3-1, 0-0 in the Big East) shot under 40 percent and made costly mistakes down the stretch, the most notable coming when the Irish had a 60-58 lead. Horton stripped Irish guard Chris Quinn from behind and streaked down the court for a lay-up and was fouled with 20 seconds remaining.

Notre Dame forward Dennis Latimore (18 points, 7-for-13 shooting) committed the foul that gave Horton the free throw and Michigan the one-point lead.

“We just had little lapses,” Thomas said. “We can’t give up a three-point play at the end of the game. We’ve got to have a hard foul. We’ve got to protect the ball. We’ve got to get open. We’ve got to run our play.”

The Irish called a timeout and gave Latimore a chance to redeem himself, drawing a play to give him the ball on the low block.

But Michigan forced Irish guard Chris Thomas to take a fade-away jump shot that missed off the backboard. Notre Dame’s final possession – a full-court race by Thomas with four seconds remaining – was thwarted when Michigan forward Brent Petway blocked Thomas’ shot to end the game.

“We didn’t get into our play well [and] we should have called a timeout,” Thomas said. “But those things happen. I thought for the most part our team played really well and just game situations down the last couple minutes really hurt us. A lot of that was Michigan though, too, defending us. You’ve got to give them some credit.”

Latimore and Francis (12 points, 5-for-6 shooting) were the only two Notre Dame players in double figures. Thomas and Quinn, the starting Irish backcourt, combined to shoot 3-for-24 from the field.

Thomas finished with two points in Notre Dame’s first regular season match-up with Michigan since January 16, 1993, when the Irish lost 70-55, also in Ann Arbor.

“The one thing [Thomas] did do, [though] I know you go back to his shooting, he controlled the whole tempo for us today,” Brey said. “He really quarterbacked a heck of a game. He got eight rebounds, ten assists. He just distributed, and then he had to guard Horton and [Dion] Harris a lot. Sometimes you don’t have legs.”

Notre Dame used a 2-3 zone to hold Michigan to 11 points in the opening nine minutes of the second half. Latimore converted off a Thomas assist with 11:30 left in the second half to give Notre Dame a 51-41 lead, their largest of the game.

But Michigan adjusted to the zone and Notre Dame switched back to man-to-man, allowing Horton to score 11 points with Thomas guarding him in the final 11 minutes to secure the Michigan victory.

“A lot of times as coaches – and certainly the coach in the other locker room is one of the best – a lot of times you want to change up or switch [defenses] because maybe you’re thinking the team is trying to get prepared for that last defense,” Michigan head coach Tommy Amaker said. “I know we’ve done that, and it has worked. I’m not saying that the way we played down the stretch was because they went man, but it had a lot to do with some big-time hustle plays.”

Michigan point guard Dion Harris scored 10 points and forward Ron Coleman finishe

with 11 points off the bench.

The Irish and Wolverines were tied 30-30 at halftime after Notre Dame closed out the final 3:36 with a 14-3 run.

Game notes

u Brey and Amaker were assistant coaches together at Duke from 1987-95. Both helped the Blue Devils to back-to-back national titles in 1991 and 1992.

u Michigan swingman Lester Abram underwent surgery on his left shoulder Sunday and will miss the rest of the season. Abram was Michigan’s leading scorer last season and played nine minutes on Saturday. Wolverines’ forward Graham Brown, who scored eight points in the Michigan win, will miss four to six weeks following hernia surgery.