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Men’s Basketball: Struggling Rutgers beats ND

Michael Bryan | Monday, February 1, 2010

In desperate need of a conference win, the Irish appeared to have a break in the schedule entering Saturday’s game against a Rutgers team that was winless in Big East play.
Instead, Notre Dame dropped the fourth of its past five games to the Scarlet Knights, falling 74-73 on the road.

Senior forward Luke Harangody and the Irish struggled from the start, falling behind 21-11 in the first 10 minutes. Harangody had difficulty the entire game against 6-foot-11 Rutgers center Hamady Ndiaye, and shot just 8-for-26 from the floor.

“The big guy changes the game, almost [Hasheem] Thabeet-like,” Irish coach Mike Brey said. “He has given us problems in the past, even in the times we’ve beaten them.”

Senior guard Mike Rosario scored 24 points to lead all players, and Ndiaye contributed 10 points, five rebounds and six blocks. The Scarlet Knights collected 13 offensive rebounds as a team, often converting them into second-chance points.

“We made a run at it, but of couple of offensive rebounds really hurt us, which is an area in this league we can always be hurt,” Brey said. “It hurt us badly tonight.”

Notre Dame overcame its slow start with a huge 24-7 run, capped off by a three-point play by junior guard Ben Hansbrough. The Irish ended the first half leading by two at 35-33.

After halftime the Scarlet Knights quickly took away the Notre Dame lead. A Rosario layup put the home team up five points at 44-39, and the Irish would never lead again.

“They got tired. I kept talking in the huddles, thinking we could make a little run, like we did in the first half when they had us down, but we could never get over the hump,” Brey said.

Rutgers extended their lead to nine with just seven minutes remaining, but the Irish were able to get within two points several times in the final minutes. Down a basket with under a minute remaining, Harangody was blocked by Ndiaye.

After fouling a Rutgers player, Notre Dame gave up an offensive rebound on a missed free throw, allowing the Scarlet Knights to extend their lead to four. Hansbrough made two 3-pointers in the closing seconds to close the final deficit to one, but it was too little too late.

Despite his struggles, Harangody led the Irish with 19 points. Junior forward Tim Abromaitis scored 17 points and 10 rebounds.

Brey said he hopes Harangody was not discouraged by the performance.

“I hope he gets those looks Thursday night because I think the law of averages will say he will make those,” Brey said. “We don’t want him to stop doing that. I know he feels responsible.”

Notre Dame will hope to stop its slide at Purcell Pavilion Thursday against Cincinnati, who defeated the Irish on a last second-tip in earlier this year.

Tip-off will be at 9 p.m.