Feb 5, 2003
By JIM O’CONNELL
AP Basketball Writer
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Notre Dame finally had a chance to take the lead against Seton Hall and it seemed most of the people in Continental Airlines Arena were sure it would happen.
No one told Andre Barrett.
The Pirates junior point guard scored nine of his 24 points over the final 2? minutes to keep the 10th-ranked Fighting Irish at bay in a 78-72 victory Wednesday night.
The win snapped Seton Hall’s three-game losing streak to Notre Dame and its 12-game losing streak to ranked teams.
“That kid is just a winner. He has been since high school,” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said of the 5-foot-10 Barrett. “Barrett was fabulous. I think you are seeing the maturation of a guy who is certainly setting the tone with this team right now.”
Barrett’s second 3-pointer of the game gave Seton Hall the lead for good at 41-38 with 18:30 to play. The Fighting Irish never fell behind by more than six points and they were within 66-65 on a layup by Matt Carroll with 3:40 to play.
Seton Hall missed on its next possession and Notre Dame had a chance to take the lead but Chris Thomas missed a reverse layup and Miller misfired on a 3 after the Fighting Irish corralled the rebound.
Barrett hit his third, last and biggest 3 with 3 seconds left on the shot clock and 2:25 on the game clock to give Seton Hall a 69-65 lead. He hit the shot with 6-foot-11 Tom Timmermans coming right at him.
Notre Dame got within 71-68 on a three-point play by Carroll with 1:29 left, but Barrett then made six free throws in the final 51 seconds to keep the Pirates in front.
“It’s a shot I normally take,” Barrett said of the last 3-pointer. “I think he (Timmermans) was afraid I was going to go past him. I just wanted to make sure I made the smart decision at that time. It was a normal shot, an open shot.”
It was one that impressed his teammates.
“It was huge, the biggest play of the game and gave us the breather that we needed,” said Andre Sweet, who had 17 points, almost triple his average, for the Pirates (10-9, 5-4 Big East). “Once he went to the line, he’s going to make those, so we got him the ball and he took them out.”
Dan Miller had 21 points for Notre Dame (18-4, 6-2), which had won four in a row overall and six straight in the conference.
“They were very good defensively,” Brey said. “I think we could have done a better job defensively.”
Seton Hall, which entered the game last in the 14-team Big East in 3-point shooting at 30.3 percent, was 5-for-7 from beyond the arc with Barrett going 3-for-4.
Notre Dame, which beat Seton Hall 74-64 on Jan. 12, was second in the league in 3-point shooting at 37.2 percent, but the Fighting Irish went 7-for-20 on 3s, including Carroll’s 1-for-6.
“They had someone chasing and when I did come off a screen they would switch on me real quick so I couldn’t the ball off. They did a good job defensively,” said Carroll, who had 16 points on 6-for-16 shooting. He was coming off a career-high 36 points in a double-overtime win over Georgetown
Sweet, a transfer from Duke who was averaging 6.2 points per game, sparked the Pirates in the first half. He scored eight points in a 17-1 run that gave Seton Hall a 23-16 lead with 8:05 left in the first half.
“Sweet’s a gamer. He’s not afraid to make plays,” Seton Hall coach Louis Orr said. “You put him on the court and he makes things happen. I have a lot of trust in him. He made shots against the zone and got them out of their zone. He did give us a lift and made some crucial buckets for us.”
Barrett was 7-for-11 from the field and 7-for-7 from the free throw line and had six assists.
Thomas had 14 points, six assists and six turnovers for Notre Dame, while freshman Torin Francis had nine points and 10 rebounds as the Fighting Irish finished with a 38-27 advantage on the boards.
“Overall, they played better than us,” Thomas said. “We didn’t do a good job on offense and when you combine that with the way they played defense you’re never going to win.”
Notre Dame, which had won 14 of 16, was off to its best start since going 22-3 in 1978-79.