Jan. 6, 2000
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – It turned out to be a battle of the big man versus the little man.
In the end, despite Khalid El-Amin’s career high performance, Notre Dame proved too much for the Huskies. El-Amin scored 34 points and had four assists in his team’s loss, 75-70.
Sophomore Troy Murphy turned in a Goliath of a performance for the Irish. The forward had 33 points, 16 rebounds and no turnovers. He played all 40 minutes for the Irish in unbelievable fashion. Murphy even took on ball handling responsibilities in order to break the UConn press.
Heading into the game, Murphy desperately wanted to erase the memory of last year’s game. He had just 11 points and five rebounds before he fouled out in the loss. At this year’s game, he seemed unstoppable.
“We were tough,” Irish head coach Matt Doherty said. “There were loss balls that we had to go after and long rebounds we had to go after. We were tough. We were mentally tough.”
As the game wore on, the intensity mounted for both teams. Doherty even matched his team’s intensity as the halftime buzzer sounded. He animatedly questioned the referee’s decision on whether or not Murphy was fouled in the final offensive opportunity. The officials felt it was unnecessary and called a technical foul on Doherty.
Despite leading at half, the Irish watched the score become all tied up as the El-Amin sank the two free throws from the foul on Doherty.
“It was stupid,” Doherty remarked about his actions after the game.
The Irish did not budge, no matter how many runs Connecticut made at them. In fact, Notre Dame secured the lead for good when Martin Ingelsby hit a three-pointer with 13:56 remaining.
“It was one of the greatest wins I have had since I have been here,” Ingelsby said. “Two of the greatest wins were this year. There was this one and the one against Ohio State.”
Ingelsby had seven points off the bench. Freshman Matt Carroll had the second most points for the team with 10.
Surprisingly as the final buzzer sounded, the Irish did not celebrate like after the Ohio State win. Instead, they shook hands and walked off the court as if nothing unusual happened.
“At Ohio State, we didn’t want to celebrate,” Doherty said. “Then David Graves screws it up by hitting the last minute jumper to win. We expect to win and we did it so we won and shook their hands. Then we went and celebrated in the locker room.”
Notre Dame toppled its second giant of the season. Coming into Wednesday’s game, the Huskies were ranked second in the country. In the Preseason NIT, Notre Dame knocked off Ohio State. The Huskies are the second team from last year’s Final Four that Notre Dame has upset. Last night’s win for the Irish moves the team’s winning streak to six.