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Men’s Basketball: Heartbreak meets ND in Hartford

Bobby Griffin | Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Not even a 25-2 Irish run in the second half was enough for Notre Dame, as the Irish dropped their ninth Big East game of the season Tuesday to No. 3/4 Connecticut in overtime, 75-74 – the team’s seventh league loss by three points or fewer this season.

Connecticut guard Marcus Williams led the Huskies (24-2, 11-2 in the Big East) with the sixth triple-double in school history. He scored 18 points to go with his 13 assists and 10 rebounds.

“We gave ourselves a chance to win a basketball game against a very good team,” Brey told the Associated Press after the game. “For our group, there is no more resilient basketball team than my guys.”

Colin Falls led the Irish (13-11, 4-9 in the Big East) with 23 points and sparked the Notre Dame offense during its second-half run. The junior, who is known for his strong three-point shooting, found ways to get to the basket against a tough Huskies defense – including a go-ahead layup with 10:24 left in the second half.

But it was Connecticut forward Hilton Armstrong’s free throws with 46 seconds left in overtime that gave the Huskies the 75-74 lead for good. Armstrong scored 11 points and grabbed nine rebounds.

Notre Dame guard Russell Carter missed a heavily contested layup on the following possession, but forward Torin Francis grabbed the loose ball and Notre Dame called a timeout.

With 27.6 seconds remaining, Irish guard Chris Quinn received an inbounds pass and waited for the clock to run down before driving towards the basket. Quinn missed the layup and Gay grabbed the rebound to protect the win.

“I’ll go to bed with that Chris Quinn runner for the rest of my life and play the law of averages,” Brey told the Associated Press. “We did not get it.”

Gay, who picked up his fourth foul with eight minutes left in the second half¸ played smart down the stretch to avoid fouling out. He finished with 17 points on 8-of-16 shooting.

Notre Dame, which wore its black road jerseys for the second consecutive game, trailed by 16 points at halftime as Connecticut dominated the offensive glass. The Huskies led by 19 points with 17:57 left in the second half.

But Connecticut fell flat from that point on, allowing the Irish to crawl back. The Huskies opted for quick shots early in their possessions. They also could not secure as many offensive rebounds as they did early in the game, as Notre Dame outworked Connecticut underneath.

Francis led Notre Dame with 10 rebounds, and forward Rob Kurz added seven off the bench.

The Irish got hot offensively at the same time. Coming out of the television timeout with roughly 15:40 left in the second half, Notre Dame went on a quick 7-0 run, prompting Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun to call a timeout.

Notre Dame continued its impressive shooting out of a timeout, scoring on four consecutive possessions. Falls scored five of Notre Dame’s 11 points in this stretch.

The loss snapped a three-game Notre Dame winning streak. Notre Dame has three games left this season – a home game against Marquette and two road games against Providence and DePaul – as it continues to try to secure a spot in the Big East tournament.

The Huskies blocked a Big East-record 19 shots in the game. Armstrong led the way with seven blocks, and forwards Josh Boone and Gay added four and three, respectively.

The Observer was unable to contact Brey following the loss.