Jan. 22, 2011
NOTRE DAME, Ind. (AP) – When it was time to make a move, Notre Dame knew exactly where to turn.
Ben Hansbrough scored a career-best 28 points and keyed a second-half spurt that rallied the 16th-ranked Fighting Irish to an 80-75 victory over Marquette on Saturday night.
Hansbrough, who shot 10 of 15 from the field and 6 of 6 at the foul line, scored seven straight points during a decisive sequence midway through the second half to help the Fighting Irish (16-4, 5-3 Big East) come back from a 12-point deficit.
“Ben makes us believe,” coach Mike Brey said. “He drives us. At crunch time, he is the guy who made us think we could win. We let the old guys (Notre Dame’s five senior starters) go out and win it for us in the second half and that meant pulling (freshman) Eric Atkins off the floor. That put the ball in Ben’s hands a lot more at point guard and he was able to create.”
Tyrone Nash added 13 points for Notre Dame, which improved to 13-0 at home. Atkins scored 12 and Scott Martin 10. Carleton Scott had 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Darius Johnson-Odom had 25 points to pace Marquette (13-7, 4-3). Jae Crowder added 15 before fouling out and Jimmy Butler scored 12.
The score was 57-all with 10:28 to go and time was running out on the shot clock when Hansbrough threw up an off-balance 3-pointer from the corner that found its mark. The shot gave Notre Dame its first lead since early in the game and sent the crowd into a frenzy.
Just 80 seconds later, Hansbrough picked an open lane and drove in for a dunk. A minute later it was his layup that gave Notre Dame a 64-60 lead.
“On that 3-pointer, I just turned around and let it fly. As soon as I let it go, I had a feeling it was in. It was right on line, and I just got lucky,” Hansbrough said. “On the dunk, I had the angle and I had been missing some bunnies earlier. I’ve been working on doing that in practice and the opportunity came up there. I just went up strong and it went in. I think the coaching call to go to the zone changed the whole momentum of the game.”
Trailing by 11, Notre Dame went on a 13-2 tear to tie it at 53 with 14:20 to go on two free throws by Hansbrough.
Marquette coach Buzz Williams said the way Hansbrough shoots makes him tough to guard.
“His shot is actually part of the pass,” Williams said. “It is one motion from when he receives the pass to when he shoots the ball. People like you and I can’t do that. He has a hot motor, is extremely competitive, and he moves without the ball extremely well.”
After a strong first half, Marquette went cold in the second, shooting only 9 of 30. The Irish shot 53.5 percent for the game and outrebounded the Golden Eagles 32-25.
Still, Notre Dame was in trouble before Brey went to a zone defense against a team that had been shooting well from 3-point range.
“We had no answer to them when we were playing man-to-man,” Brey said. “We weren’t able to rebound and they were in a shooting rhythm. When we went zone, it changed their rhythm and also we were able to rebound with them.”
The Irish went 28 of 36 from the free throw line, while Marquette was 15 for 17. Williams thought that was the difference.
“It is impossible to overcome 22 free throws in the second half, especially on the road in the Big East,” he said. “To shoot 22 free throws in 20 minutes is an exorbitant number. If I thought my opinion mattered, I would answer (questions) about it, but I have four kids to get through college.”
Marquette, which hit 12 3-pointers in its 22-point home win over Notre Dame on Jan. 10, started out quick from beyond the arc again, nailing three of its first four attempts. The Golden Eagles jumped out to an 11-4 lead before Notre Dame scored seven straight points to tie it.
A 12-footer by Crowder gave Marquette a 33-23 advantage with 6:05 left in the first half. Marquette pushed the lead to 12 before ending the half with a 45-36 lead. The Golden Eagles shot 61.5 percent, led by Johnson-Odom’s 15 points.
Hansbrough, held to nine points in the previous meeting, led Notre Dame with 15 but also was whistled for three first-half fouls.
Marquette went 5 of 7 from 3-point range in the first half but 5 of 13 in the second.
“I think we had more touches in the paint in the second half and that is usually a good thing,” Williams said. “But the zone geared us down and we missed too many bunnies in the second half.”