March 14, 2002

Notre Dame at Charlotte NCAA First Round Box Score

AP Sports Writer

GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP) – – At a school where athletic success stares down from statues and trophy cases, Notre Dame coach Mike Brey is pleased to make a mark so quickly.

The eighth-seeded Fighting Irish got 20 points each from Matt Carroll and Ryan Humphrey, and 19 from David Graves to defeat No. 9 seed Charlotte 82-63 and win back-to-back NCAA openers for the first time in 23 years.

The last time was in 1978 and 1979 under then-coach Digger Phelps.

“It’s huge for us, not just to go to the tournament, but win the first round,” Brey said. “It’s great. These guys have worked hard and they deserve it.”

Graves, a senior, has spent four years listening to fans and classmates talk about Notre Dame beating UCLA in 1974 to end the Bruins’ 88-game winning streak. “That’s all you hear about,” he said. “Notre Dame making history. We want to make history here before we go.”

A win on Saturday against Duke, which routed Winthrop 84-37, would also do it. The Irish (22-10) haven’t gone to the round of 16 since 1987, also with Phelps.

“I’ll talk to you all day tomorrow about who we play next,” said Brey, cutting off the questions about Notre Dame’s next opponent before they began.

Brey spent eight seasons as an assistant for Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski.

A year ago, Krzyzewski defeated ex-assistant and Missouri coach Quinn Snyder in the NCAA’s second round. He doesn’t relish going against another coach he considers a part of his family.

“I hate it,” Krzyzewski said. “It’s not even like or dislike. I hate it. I would think Mike doesn’t look forward to it, either.”

The 49ers were trying to keep alive their run of first-round success since 1997. They had won their previous four opening games. This time, though, they were hit with bad news before they stepped on the floor.

Charlotte star Jobey Thomas, who averages 19 points, had a stomach virus and needed intravenous fluids. The senior started but was not close to himself, finishing 2-of-12 from the floor for only five points, his lowest output of the season.

“It’s tough luck,” Brey said. “But at this point, it’s survival of the fittest. We’ll move on.”

Thomas said he was feeling better Wednesday. “But then last night,” he said, “everything went South.”

Without Thomas, the 49ers couldn’t last against the more physical Irish.

The game was tied at 35 at halftime, but Notre Dame opened the second period with a 29-10 run with big contributions from Carroll, Humphrey and Graves.

Humphrey started things with a putback basket, Graves caught a floor-length pass from Carroll for an easy jumper and, after freshman point guard Chris Thomas stole a lazy inbounds pass, Carroll knocked down a basket.

Graves’ 3-pointer with 15:01 left put the Irish up 50-40.

Humphrey and Carroll had consecutive three-point plays as the lead grew to 12. Graves closed the run with his third 3-pointer, and Notre Dame led 64-45 with 7{ minutes remaining.

“That was really huge for us to get out there that fast” after the break, Carroll said. “That gave us a little confidence and we carried it out from there.”

Charlotte coach Bobby Lutz said his team tried to respond to Notre Dame’s charge.

“The team just hit a wall,” he said. “For us to win, we had to have Jobey rolling and that just wasn’t going to happen tonight, no matter what we did.”

Carroll hit 4-of-5 3-pointers, while Humphrey added 11 rebounds and went 10-of-10 from the foul line.

Charlotte had only five field goals in the second half and shot 21-of-62 (33.9 percent) overall from the field.

Kevin Johnson’s 10 points led the 49ers.