March 8, 2000
- Coach Doherty
- T. Murphy
- J. Dillon
By HAL BOCK
AP Sports Writer
NEW YORK (AP) – Notre Dame had some getting even to do with Rutgers. The Irish accomplished that in a big way Wednesday night, winning their firsrt Big East Conference tournament game ever with a shower of 3-point shots to sink the Scarlet Knights 74-62.
It was a complete reversal of a 25-point drubbing Rutgers put on the Irish in their only regular-season meeting.
“We were embarassed at Rutgers,” coach Matt Doherty said. “We had to prove we can play against the tough, physical, man-to-man defensive team.”
The Irish (18-13) did that from beyond the 3-point arc, burying 10 long-range shots, seven in the first half when they built a 17-point lead. Six Notre Dame players hit 3-pointers.
Troy Murphy, the conference’s Player of the Year, had just one of the Notre Dame 3s, but led all scorers with 25 points and 14 rebounds. He played all 40 minutes and hit 12 of 14 free throws.
“It means a lot to the program to win our first Big East tournament game,” he said. “It’s a step forward for us.”
The win moved Notre Dame into Thursday night’s quarterfinals against Miami, which had a first-round bye.
Notre Dame took charge early against Rutgers (15-15). The Irish constructed a big lead early with Matt Carroll nailing consecutive 3s and eight straight points in an 11-0 run in the game’s early minutes.
Then David Graves, Murphy, Jere Macura and Mike Monserez hit four straight 3s in another burst that extended Notre Dame’s lead to 34-17. Graves, Macura and Harold Swanagan had 10 points each for the Irish.
Notre Dame shot 52.9 percent from the field and outrebounded Rutgers 35-28.
“We talked about being the aggressor and jumping out early and we’ve done that the last two games,” Doherty said. “I thought our kids showed a lot of toughness.”
Rutgers used its own long-range shooting to slice Notre Dame’s lead to nine points in the second half, but the Scarlet Knights got no closer than that.
Dahntay Jones led Rutgers with 19 points, while Todd Billet had 16 including four 3-pointers.
“Notre Dame was well prepared and got off to a great start on offense and defense,” Rutgers coach Kevin Bannon said. “We lost our offensive confidence early and it took a long time to get it back. They put us back on our heels.”
Now the Irish will try to do the same thing against Miami. Doherty knows that won’t be easy.
“They may be the best defensive team we played all season,” he said. “We had them by 14 and we lost.”