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Men’s Basketball: Loud crowd distracts Hall, moves Irish to victory

Fran Tolan | Friday, February 1, 2008

The Leprechaun Legion proved to be the Legion of Doom for Providence center Ray Hall and the rest of his Friars teammates Thursday night. After Hall failed to even hit the rim on a free throw in the second half, the crowd taunted him with repeated chants of “Airball” on all of his subsequent trips to the line. Hall made just 2-of-10 free throws in the game and missed four straight in overtime to help seal his team’s fate.

“He was just throwing up bricks,” Irish forward Zach Hillesland said. “The fans were great to keep calling out that ‘Airball’ chant during stoppages of play for minutes on end. That really helped us out.”

Besides the student section, the fan turnout seemed sparse at the outset of the contest. But as the game continued, the entire crowd at the arena began to energize the home squad. Most of the Notre Dame supporters stood for the duration of overtime.

“Our building, our fans really helped us tonight,” Irish coach Mike Brey said.

“There’s where your home-court advantage kinda gets you the win tonight.”

Point guard Tory Jackson said the crowd was instrumental in helping the Irish win their 32nd straight game at the Joyce Center.

“I love our crowd even when they heckle some of our opponents,” Jackson said.

“They kept me laughing; they kept me fresh.”