Feb. 1, 2006
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) – Notre Dame’s luck has fallen short lately.
Notre Dame lost its third straight game to a ranked opponent, falling to No. 11 West Virginia 71-70.
The Irish had beaten the Mountainners 11 straight times, including many tight contests that the Mountaineers lost late.
This time, Notre Dame couldn’t pull off a victory as Chris Quinn’s shot at the buzzer missed.
“Tonight’s game wasn’t about who had better players or better coaches,” said West Virginia coach Beilein said. “That shot was all about luck. We had some good luck and they had some bad.”
Kevin Pittsnoggle had 22 points to lead the Mountaineers (16-4, 7-0), who stayed unbeaten in the rough-and-tumble Big East.
“In past year’s we’ve lost to them on last-minute shots,” said Pittsnogle. “We were just hoping it would not go in.”
Quinn had 24 points to lead the Irish, who were trailing 71-65 in the final minute before scoring five straight points.
“You need to hit a runner there,” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. “You need to be a little lucky and hit that there.”
Mike Gansey added 13 points for the Mountaineers, who led by 15 twice in the first half before Notre Dame hit five 3-pointers, including Quinn’s 24-footer at the buzzer to bring the Irish within four points, 39-35, at the break.
The teams combined for 15-of-27 from behind the arc in the opening period. Both teams had 10 3-pointers by the 11-minute mark of the second half.
Notre Dame took its first lead, 41-39, on Rick Cornett’s lay-in with 18:27, the first of just four lead changes in the game. West Virginia then used a 5-1 spurt on Pittsnogle’s basket and Frank Young’s 3-pointer to lead 44-42 with 17:09 remaining.
Notre Dame took its final edge on Russell Carter’s 3-pointer with five minutes left. Pittsnogle scored seven straight points to put West Virginia ahead 68-65. Joe Herber hit a basket and a free throw to give West Virginia a 71-65 advantage in the final minute.
“Tonight was one of those games that you just grind out every possession,” said Gansey, who noted West Virginia was getting tired because of the cross-country trip to UCLA and games against Marshall and at St. John’s. “Hopefully we can get some rest because we will have tight games the rest of the way.”
Quinn scored a game-high 24 points and Colin Falls added 18 points.
“That’s the guy we wanted taking the shot,” Brey said of Quinn. “He made all the plays for us, and he wanted the ball again. But we’re just not as old as some of the teams that have come in here and won.”
Notre Dame (10-9, 1-7) which had 10 first half turnovers, is ranked last in the Big East and may not make the conference tournament for the first time in six years. It was Brey’s first loss to West Virginia.
“There is no difference in Notre Dame and the top of the league,” Beilein said. “One shot makes, one shot misses. That’s the ball game.”
Herber broke Lester Rowe’s school record for consecutive starts with 115. Chris Brooks (1988-91) has the record for most career starts with 118.