March 15, 2000
? Coach Doherty
? T. Murphy
? M. Carroll
? D. Graves
By JR ROSS
Associated Press Writer
SOUTH BEND, Ind. – Notre Dame used Vanderbilt’s first-round loss as motivation.
When the Commodores lost in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament on Tuesday night, Irish coach Matt Doherty gave his players a phone call to deliver a simple message: Don’t let this happen to you.
The Irish didn’t.
Despite their disappointment over missing out on their first NCAA tournament trip in a decade, the Irish beat Michigan 75-65 Wednesday in the first round of the NIT behind Troy Murphy’s 32 points.
“Seeing that happen, we didn’t want to have the same thing happen,” said Murphy, who was 12-of-14 from the foul line. “He just talked about the looks on those players’ faces.”
The Irish (19-14) seemed to take Doherty’s message to heart during the final 49.6 seconds after Murphy went to the bench with his fifth foul and Michigan (15-14) trailing 69-64.
Notre Dame survived a flurry of fouls by hitting 6-of-8 from the line to secure the win and advance to host a second-round game Monday against Xavier (22-11).
“Vanderbilt losing got our guys’ attention,” Doherty said. “Vandy didn’t have the energy. They weren’t excited to play.”
Notre Dame took a 60-51 lead with 9:37 left after Jere Macura hit a pair of free throws. But Michigan answered with a 9-2 run – with Notre Dame’s only points coming from Murphy, who pushed the lead to 66-60 on four straight free throws.
David Graves’ 3-pointer increased the lead to 69-61 before Michigan pulled to 69-64 when Kevin Gaines hit one of two free throws after Murphy’s fifth foul. But the Wolverines couldn’t get any closer as the Irish hit their foul shots down the stretch.
The Irish finished 24-of-30 from the foul line, while the Wolverines were 10-of-14.
“I hate to lose the game the way we lost it,” Michigan coach Brian Ellerbe said. “There were lots of questionable things, but as always, I will take the high road. You saw the game. It’s easy to take it from there.”
Michigan, which lost Jamal Crawford to suspension for much of the last two months and lost 11 of its final 14 games, was led by LaVell Blanchard’s 14 points. Peter Vignier and Josh Asselin scored 12 points each for the Wolverines.
“It was up and down,” Blanchard said. “It is hard to look past the wins and losses after a loss like today. Losing Jamal is frustrating, but you can’t use that as an excuse.”
The game was tied at 33 at the half.
“I was really mad and depressed Monday after examining the (NCAA) pairings,” Doherty said. “I’ll be happy to hang an NIT banner in the Joyce Center.”