Feb. 18, 2007
CINCINNATI (AP) -Senior guard Colin Falls set Notre Dame’s career record for 3-pointers on Sunday, and the Fighting Irish made 13 in all while pulling away to a 76-64 victory over Cincinnati.
Notre Dame (20-6, 8-5 Big East) has its first 20-win season since 2002-03, when it finished 24-10.
The Fighting Irish used their balance and outside shooting to lead the entire game against Cincinnati (10-16, 1-11), which has lost eight in a row for the first time in 23 years.
Falls scored a team-high 23 points and went 5-of-8 from behind the arc, moving ahead of Chris Thomas for the school record. Falls has 305 3s during his career, which is three more than Thomas.
Sophomore Ryan Ayers added a career-high 12 points, going 4-of-4 from behind the arc. Guard Russell Carter, who leads the Irish with 17.7 points per game, went only 1-of-6 for three points in limited play, taking a seat while Ayers performed.
Notre Dame was 13-of-20 overall on 3-pointers, shooting over a defense that was more concerned about getting beat inside.
John Williamson scored 23 points and Deonta Vaughn had 22 for Cincinnati, which is stuck at the bottom of the Big East and has little chance of making the 12-team field for the conference tournament.
Cincinnati wore throwback uniforms honoring its 1961 team, which won the first of the Bearcats’ consecutive national titles. The more appropriate reference for this Bearcat team is the 1983-84 squad that finished 3-25. That was the last Cincinnati team to lose eight in a row.
Tory Jackson made a pair of 3s that got the Fighting Irish rolling in the opening minutes and set the tone. Notre Dame went 7-of-10 from behind the arc in the first half, pulling ahead 37-30.
Five Notre Dame players made 3s in the half, when the lead reached 11 points. Vaughn kept Cincinnati close, hitting a pair of late 3-pointers and scoring 12 points overall in the half.
Cincinnati switched defenses – man-to-man, zone, full-court press – to slow the league’s top-scoring team. Notre Dame came in averaging 81.8 points per game. The Bearcats also set about getting the ball inside in the second half.
Williamson, the Bearcats’ only front-line threat, scored 10 of Cincinnati’s first 12 points in the second half, six of them on free throws. Williamson got his fourth foul with 11 minutes remaining, limiting him the rest of the way.
Ayers, who had never scored more than seven points in a game, made his fourth 3-pointer for a 54-43 lead. Cincinnati never got closer than seven points the rest of the way.
Falls broke the school record with his 3-pointer from the right wing with 7:37 left, pumping his right fist when the ball went through the net. He hit another from the left side a minute later, pushing the lead to 64-52.