By TOM COYNE
AP Sports Writer
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) – Matt Carroll scored 25 points, Chris Thomas had 19 and No. 10 Notre Dame made all but one of its 23 free throws in beating Rutgers 68-57 on Tuesday night.
Rutgers (8-6, 0-2 Big East) took only nine free throw, making five, as the Irish (14-2, 2-1) used a big advantage in foul shots to win for the second straight game. The Irish were 22-of-29 from the free throw line on Sunday in a 10-point win over Seton Hall while the Pirates were 8-of-9.
The Scarlet Knights lost Tuesday night despite taking 62 shots compared to 43 for the Irish. Notre Dame, which was outrebounded 34-30, outshot Rutgers 44 percent to 39 percent.
Jordan Cornette blocked eight shots for the Irish, six in the second half, including a key block during the turning point in the game.
The Irish, who had struggled in the second half of their last three games, trailed 36-35 at halftime. They started the second half with a 10-2 run to move ahead 45-38 when Carroll hit a 3-pointer. But the Scarlet Knights answered with a 9-0 run to move ahead 47-45, with Herve Lamizana scoring the last four points on a breakaway jam and a basket inside.
Carroll hit a 3-pointer with 9:36 left to give the Irish a 50-47 lead. Cornette then turned up the defense on the Scarlet Knights. First he deflected a bad pass from Mike Sherrod to Lamizana out of bounds with 10 seconds left on the shot clock. Then he blocked a shot by Juel Wiggan out of bounds with 4 seconds left on the shot clock.
Lamizana got the inbounds pass with Cornette guarding him, but couldn’t get a shot off and the shot clock ran out as he tried to pass and the crowd of 11,054 went wild.
Two possessions later, Cornette forced a held ball as he grabbed the ball after Sean Axani rebounded it. The next time down the floor, Cornette stole a pass by Jerome Coleman, then scored at the other end on a tip-in off a miss by Thomas to give the Irish a 56-49 lead. Carroll then put the game away with a 3-pointer with 5:19 left as Notre Dame opened a 10-point lead.
Cornette finished with eight points on 3-of-4 shooting with seven rebounds and two assists.
Lamizana led Rutgers with 14 points, eight rebounds and three blocked shots. Ricky Shields scored 13 points and Kareem Wright had 11 points, but managed only one basket in the second half.
Rutgers turned the ball over only nine times, just twice in the first half. Notre Dame became just the fifth team this season to turn the ball over fewer than 20 times against Rutgers with 13, four in the second half.
The Irish improved to 10-0 at home for the first time since the 1994-95 season and has won 12 straight at the Joyce Center dating to last season. The Scarlet Knights haven’t beaten a Top Ten team since a 74-64 victory over No. 6 West Virginia on Feb. 1, 1982. They lost to then-No. 6 Pittsburgh 70-63 last Sunday.