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Men’s Basketball: Cards stuff Irish in overtime

Chris Hine, Greg Arbogast and Fran Tolan | Wednesday, January 14, 2009

It was no secret heading into this season that the Big East was going to be the most grueling conference in the country.

Through five Big East games, Notre Dame (12-4, 3-2 Big East) has already experienced a season’s worth of emotions. After beating DePaul in the conference opener, Notre Dame felt the unexpected and disappointing low of losing to the bottom-dwelling St. John’s in Madison Square Garden, only to follow that two days later with a home win over Georgetown, then ranked No. 10 in the country. Then after fending off a pesky Seton Hall team, Notre Dame experienced possibly its most crushing loss of the season Monday night, falling 87-73 in overtime to No. 20 Louisville – a game Notre Dame would’ve loved to have, considering Louisville was the first of five ranked teams. Notre Dame will face over the next 17 days. Notre Dame’s next four opponents – Syracuse, Connecticut, Marquette and Pittsburgh – have a combined record of 14-1 in conference play.

Louisville 87, No. 12 Notre Dame 73 (OT)

Notre Dame’s dynamic and multi-faceted offense could only muster two points over the final 10:35 against the Cardinals Monday night and Louisville, behind 24 points and 16 rebounds from Terence Williams, escaped with a win in a game Notre Dame let get away.

The Irish held a 71-67 lead with 5:35 left in regulation, but Louisville came back to tie with a layup from Samardo Samuels with 3:22 remaining.

For the rest of regulation, Notre Dame tightened the screws on Louisville defensively, and didn’t allow the Cardinals to score, but the Irish couldn’t score either. Guard Tory Jackson, who had seven turnovers to go along with nine points and six assists, missed a layup. Forward Luke Harangody, who turned in another strong performance of 28 points and 13 rebounds, missed a pair of jumpers.

Despite that, Notre Dame had a chance to win on the last shot, but Jackson could find nothing as he penetrated and threw the ball into the backcourt. The Irish were called for a backcourt violation with 0.8 seconds left. Louisville’s Will Scott missed a last-second 3-pointer and the game went into overtime, where the Cardinals kicked it up a notch and left a gassed Notre Dame in its wake.

Samuels, who finished with 18 points and six rebounds, started off overtime with a jumper. Zach Hillesland scored quickly with Notre Dame’s lone field goal of the 10:35 drought, to tie it at 73. Then Earl Clark, who had 15 points and 10 rebounds including a thunderous dunk over Harangody in the first half, answered right back with a three and the rout was on.

Louisville used its full-court pressure against Notre Dame after every made basket. The pressure contributed to Notre Dame’s 15 turnovers. And in a common theme that has developed this year for Notre Dame, Louisville outrebounded the Irish 48-43 and had 19 second-chance points to Notre Dame’s seven.

No. 13 Notre Dame 88, Seton Hall 79

After its emotional win over Georgetown, Notre Dame needed a late run to put away Big East bottom feeder Seton Hall. In the process, the Irish collected their 20th consecutive Big East home victory tying the conference record set by Pittsburgh during a stretch spanning 2001-2004.

Uncharacteristically poor shooting by Notre Dame kept the Pirates in the game for much of the evening. The Irish shot only 41.9 percent from the floor – over four percentage points below their season average.

Harangody was partly responsible for that low percentage, making only eight of 23 from the field, but the junior was also the catalyst for the Notre Dame’s late run that put away the Pirates. Harangody’s put-back with 9:55 remaining tied the game and sparked a 13-4 run by Notre Dame. Harangody finished with 30 points and 16 rebounds.

“Coach said during the game to just keep going at it, and I did,” Harangody said. “I finally started going to work a little bit in there. Not one of my best days, but it still felt good.”

Tory Jackson and Kyle McAlarney also made significant contributions for the Irish as each player finished with 18 points.

No. 13 Notre Dame 73, No. 10 Georgetown 67

Irish coach Mike Brey put his faith in Luke Harangody, and the reigning Big East Player of the Year didn’t let his coach down.

With 15:17 left in the second half and Notre Dame up by six points, Harangody picked up his fourth foul. Brey would sit the junior for less than four minutes before Harangody returned to lead the Irish to victory, scoring 10 points and grabbing five rebounds down the stretch.

“When you’re an older player, a veteran player, my feeling is sometimes coaches sit guys with foul trouble too much. He’s played a lot of basketball,” Brey said. “I talked with him when I took him out. I told him, ‘I need you to be smart.'”

Guard Kyle McAlarney also found his shooting touch against the Hoyas. After making only one of five 3-pointers in Notre Dame’s loss to St. John’s, the senior sharpshooter connected on five of 11 treys and finished with 17 points.

By beating Georgetown, Notre Dame defeated one of the only two Big East teams that hasn’t fallen to the Irish during their current home winning streak. Rutgers, who visits the Joyce Center on Feb. 25, is now the only team remaining.

St. John’s 71, No. 13 Notre Dame 65

The Red Storm stunned the Irish with a 71-65 upset. Harangody recorded 28 points and 14 boards but Notre Dame’s four-game win streak came to a surprising end. Red Storm guard D.J. Kennedy had 20 points and 10 rebounds in his team’s biggest win in years.

No. 13 Notre Dame 92, DePaul 82

The Irish opened up conference play on New Year’s Eve with a 92-82 win over DePaul. All five Notre Dame starters finished with double-digit scoring totals and senior Zach Hillesland dropped a career-high 17 points. Luke Harangody, the reigning Big East player of the year, finished with 26 points and 16 rebounds.