NEW YORK – Despite a 14-point effort from junior center Hamady Ndiaye, No. 15 seed Rutgers (11-21) dropped a 61-50 decision to 10th seeded Notre Dame (18-13) Tuesday evening in the opening round of the BIG EAST Championship at Madison Square Garden. Freshman guard Mike Rosario registered 12 points against the Irish to increase his tally to 517, surpassing Phil Sellers (1972-73; 506) for the most points scored by a Scarlet Knight freshman in a season.
RU once again put forth a strong defensive effort, holding Notre Dame to 35.1 percent (20-57) shooting, while limiting two-time All-BIG EAST First Team selection Luke Harangody to just seven points on a three-of-17 performance from the field. The Scarlet Knights established a commanding 28-14 advantage in points in the paint and out-rebounded the Fighting Irish by a 46-38 margin.
Rutgers jumped out to an 11-6 lead before ND went on a 12-2 run to take an 18-13 advantage with 7:08 remaining before the break. RU reduced the deficit to a single digit before the Irish scored 10 of the first half’s final 12 points to take a 28-19 lead into the locker room.
After the midpoint, the Scarlet Knights scored 13 of the initial 18 points. Trailing 33-32 after an Earl Pettis three-pointer with 15:24 on the clock, the Irish answered with a 12 point run and Rutgers, struggling to find its shot, would not recover. RU would get to within five (55-50) on a Corey Chandler fast break field goal with 1:09 remaining, but would get no closer.
Tory Jackson scored 12 points, all in the second half, to lead three Notre Dame players in double figures. Kyle McAlarney added 11 points for the Fighting Irish, who will play seventh-seeded West Virginia in a second round match-up Wednesday evening.