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MEN’S BASKETBALL: Hartford Center heartbreak

Matt Lozar | Tuesday, February 22, 2005

When Notre Dame beat Connecticut at the Joyce Center three weeks ago, the surprise was the Irish big men outplaying the Huskies.

Monday night’s performance by the Connecticut big men was no surprise at all.

The Huskies dominated the Irish (16-8, 8-6 Big East) on the glass and in the paint in an 88-74 win at the Hartford Civic Center.

Connecticut (18-6, 10-3) started cleaning up the rebounds from the start. The team had a 25-12 rebounding edge at the half and increased it to 43-26 by the end of the game.

Huskies forward Charlie Villanueva tied a career high with 25 points, Josh Boone added nine points and eight rebounds and point guard Marcus Williams played solidly at both ends of the court with 17 points, 12 assists and nine rebounds. In two games against the Irish this season, Williams has a combined 28 assists.

In Notre Dame’s 78-74 win on Jan. 30, Torin Francis and Dennis Latimore combined for 31 points and 16 rebounds en route to leading the Irish to a 38-20 scoring advantage in the paint against the Huskies. Francis and Latimore did combine for 23 points and nine rebounds Monday night, but the disparity was much greater as the Huskies muscled their way to dominance underneath the hoop.

The Huskies came out hot, but the Irish were able to keep pace behind the outside shooting of Colin Falls. The sophomore made his third 3-pointer at the 10:57 mark of the first half to get the Irish within one at 22-21.

Then the Huskies opened up a double-digit lead with a 13-4 run and went into the locker room up 45-32.

The Irish started the second half with a quick 5-0 run to get within eight. A frustrating pattern then developed as the Irish would trim the lead to that margin, before the Huskies would use quick runs of their own to push the lead back to 12 points or more.

Falls came into the game in a slump, making 6-for-28 prior to Monday night. He led the Irish long-distance shooters with a 6-for-10 effort from behind the arc against the Huskies. Overall the Irish shot 45.5 percent (10-22) on 3-pointers.

The Irish had four players in double figures – Chris Thomas (16 points), Chris Quinn (12), Falls (19) and Francis (15). The rest of the team scored a combined 12 points.

Jordan Cornette was held scoreless, but had four blocks and now has 197 for his career as he closes in on LaPhonso Ellis’ school record of 200. The 88 points were the most yielded by the Irish this season.

The 14-point defeat was the biggest since a 14-point loss to Providence last season at the Joyce Center.