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Men’s Basketball: Parting gift

Chris Khorey | Monday, February 26, 2007

It looked bleak for Notre Dame.

No. 16 Marquette made its first six field goals and jumped out to a 23-10 lead Saturday, but the No. 23 Irish fought back to take a six-point halftime lead and pull out an 85-73 victory at the Joyce Center.

“We never backed down,” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. “This was a Big East street fight. Our guys kept swinging and digging and clawing.”

The win gave the Irish (22-6, 10-5 Big East) sole possession of fourth place in the conference and an inside track for a bye in the conference tournament. It also gave Notre Dame an 18-0 record at the Joyce Center this season.

“I told the seniors that they can hand the [home winning] streak off to the younger guys and they can work on it next year,” Brey said.

Irish senior guards Colin Falls and Russell Carter played their final home game for Notre Dame, scoring 14 and 13 points, respectively. Falls hit four 3-pointers to break the Big East record for career 3-pointers, held by former Syracuse guard Gerry McNamara.

But it was two Irish freshmen who stole the show.

Forward Luke Harangody led all scorers with 22 points. He also grabbed 13 rebounds, nine of them offensive.

“I threw in a couple lucky ones, but they gave me a lot of confidence, so that was nice,” Harangody said after the game.

The freshman also said he was able to easily read the way Marquette forward Ousmane Barro was guarding him, which allowed him to make his post moves effectively.

“I felt where he was on my shoulder and I used that to figure out what move to use,” Harangody said.

Freshman point guard Tory Jackson also had a huge game – finishing with 21 points and seven assists. Jackson shot 6-of-12 from the field and nailed 8-of-11 free throw attempts.

“I felt me and the younger guys had to pick it up because the seniors were so emotional,” Jackson said. “We wanted to send them out with a bang. This is a gift from us to them.”

The game was physical, with 49 total fouls. Golden Eagles guards Jerel McNeal and Wesley Matthews both found themselves with three fouls by the end of the first half and Matthews later fouled out.

On the Irish side, Harangody fouled out and Carter finished the game with four personals.

“It changed the game a little,” Falls said. “A lot of guys were in foul trouble.”

There were also several altercations.

First was a ruckus near the Marquette bench with 12 minutes left in the first half when Carter shoved Marquette guard Jerel McNeal. Marquette coach Tom Crean lost his cool and had to be restrained; but no technical fouls were issued.

With 3:35 left in the game, another broke out in front of the Notre Dame student section when Harangody collided with McNeal trying to stop a fast break. Trailing the play, Notre Dame forward Zach Hillesland and Marquette guard Dominic James started shoving each other. A scuffle broke out and both James and Hillesland were issued technicals.

Finally, with 22 seconds left in the game, Harangody was called for a personal foul and was shoved to the floor by Marquette forward Dan Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald earned a technical for the play.

“This is Big East play,” Harangody said. “I wasn’t too surprised with it being a physical game, especially because it was Marquette.”

The Golden Eagles started red hot, sprinting to an early 8-0 lead that included two fast break dunks. They eventually stretched the lead to 23-10 midway through the first half.

The Irish responded with a 16-6 run over the next five minutes to pull within three at 29-26.

The teams traded baskets for the next two minutes, but an 11-0 Irish run to end the half, keyed by six points from Jackson, gave Notre Dame a 42-36 halftime lead.

The Golden Eagles closed to within two thanks to eight quick points from guard Dominic James at 50-48 with 15 minutes remaining, but a 9-2 Irish run put them back down by nine and Marquette never threatened to pull even again.


u Notre Dame honored seniors Russell Carter, Colin Falls and Kieran Piller before their final home contest.

Piller, a walk on, entered the game with two seconds left for his 13th career appearance.

Carter and Falls addressed the sellout crowd after the game.

“We weren’t sure what we were going to say,” Falls said. “I looked at him and he looked at me and we kind of winged it.”

u The Irish can clinch a bye in the Big East tournament with a win over Rutgers Saturday or a loss by Syracuse to Georgetown Monday or to Villanova Saturday.