Jan 10, 2004
PHILADELPHIA (AP) – Chris Thomas had 21 of his 26 points in the second half to lead Notre Dame to its sixth straight win, a 82-78 victory over Villanova on Saturday.
Thomas banked in a 3-pointer with 2:12 to play that tied the game at 74-all. After Chris Quinn hit a pair of free throws to give the Irish the lead and the Wildcats’ Mike Nardi missed a wide-open 3, Torin Francis grabbed a loose ball and dunked it to end a 9-0 run that extended the lead to four.
Villanova missed six of ten free-throw attempts in the final minute and could not capitalize on Thomas’ fouling out with 19 seconds remaining to lose their third in a row after winning five straight.
The Irish (8-3, 2-0 Big East), playing on the road for the first time since Dec. 14, got 13 points from Quinn, 12 from Colin Falls, 11 from Francis and 10 points and 11 rebounds from Jones to defeat Villanova for the first time since joining the Big East in 1995.
The Wildcats (9-4, 0-1) put four starters in double figures. Randy Foye and Allan Ray had 18 points each, Nardi added 15 and Curtis Sumpter had 14 points, while Jason Fraser led the Wildcats with a career-high 17 rebounds.
Both teams went scoreless for the first 2:40 of the second half before Foye shook Jones on a crossover and finished the play with a dunk that ignited the Villanova crowd for the first time all day.
A fast-break slam by Sumpter and a 3-pointer from Nardi gave the Wildcats their first lead of the second half.
With the game tied at 48, Sumpter made a 3-pointer and followed his own miss on the next possession to give the Wildcats a five-point lead. A layup by Foye extended the lead to seven.
Notre Dame trailed by three early in the first half until Thomas, Jordan Cornette and Falls hit consecutive 3s during a 15-0 run. The Wildcats answered with a 14-4 spurt capped by a 17-foot jumper by Foye with 2:45 left in the half.
Just over a minute later, Nardi made a leaning 3 to beat the shot clock that pulled Villanova within one. Falls, who hit all four of his 3-point attempts in the first half, then made his last one with 42 seconds remaining to give the Irish a 38-34 halftime lead.