Feb. 25, 2012
NEW YORK (AP) – Notre Dame had some long-range luck in its nine-game winning streak.
The 20th-ranked Fighting Irish ran out of it on Saturday and lost 61-58 to St. John’s.
“The law of averages catches up with you a little bit,” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. “We have stolen some wins, banking down 3s on the road, and we really couldn’t today.”
Notre Dame went a season-worst 4 of 31 from 3-point range against the Red Storm.
“Our lack of 3-point shooting really hurt,” Notre Dame’s Scott Martin said. “I think that was the big problem for us. They frustrated us, made us take them deeper than we wanted to.”
The Red Storm have spent almost all season in 16th and last place in the Big East in 3-point shooting. This was their first win over a ranked team in 11 games this season.
“The stat sheet shows they weren’t able to make their normal number of 3s and that was the difference,” St. John’s assistant coach Mike Dunlap said. “We were able to play at a pace slower than we’d like. We handled that and disrupted what they wanted to do.”
Moe Harkless had 22 points and nine rebounds and D’Angelo Harrison added 15 points for St. John’s (13-16, 6-10). That wasn’t surprising since Harrison (17.1) came into the game second among freshmen in the nation in scoring and Harkless (15.6) was seventh.
What was unexpected was that Amir Garrett, another of the five freshmen starters, had 11 points, including the drive that gave the Red Storm a 61-58 lead with 8.9 seconds to play and when Notre Dame’s last of 27 3-point misses was off at the buzzer, St. John’s had its third straight win.
“The reason we’ve been able to win three games and close them out is that those other three guys are growing offensively,” Dunlap said. “If they don’t we can’t win these games. As a staff we talked about five guys being able to score, not just Harkless and Harrison. We talked about that in the huddle.”
Martin and Jack Cooley both had 18 points for the Fighting Irish (20-9, 12-4), who had won a program-record nine straight conference games. Alex Dragevich missed a 3-point attempt at the buzzer for Notre Dame, which could have moved into a tie for second place in the Big East with No. 10 Marquette.
“I thought their defense really bothered us, it sped us up,” Brey said. “We had some great looks but we didn’t make enough of them. You’re going to have to make some more jump shots over the top of that zone to escape here today.”
Notre Dame had pulled off some impressive second-half comebacks in their winning streak.
“We’ve done that a couple of times and stolen wins, but I almost felt like the law of averages today said `You can’t have this one,”‘ Brey said.
Cooley had 11 rebounds, his fifth double-double in his last six games.
Harkless hit a 3-pointer that gave St. John’s a 53-41 lead with 9:15 to play. Notre Dame went on an 11-2 run to get within 55-52 with 4:51 left. Eric Atkins capped the run with a 3-pointer, Notre Dame’s only one of the second half in 14 attempts.
The Fighting Irish closed within one point twice in the final 1:28, but Harkless scored down low the first time and Garrett connected on the drive the second time.
Harrison said it doesn’t have to be he or Harkless for the big shot.
“I feel everybody on this team can take a last shot,” Harrison said. “I turned to get it and Amir got it. Give him a lot of credit. It’s not just one or two guys who can make plays.”
Cooley blamed himself for that play.
“I saw that Garrett broke through the primary defense and got into the middle of the lane and I was a little out of position,” he said. “I should have contested a little more and he made a good shot at the end of the game.”
Notre Dame came into the game shooting 34.3 percent from 3-point range, while St. John’s entered the game allowing teams to shoot 34.6 percent from beyond the arc. The Red Storm, who were 3 of 11 from 3-point range, came into the game last in the conference from beyond the arc at 28.1 percent.
Brey said the Fighting Irish’s last shot was a good look.
“But we didn’t deserve it,” he said. “They did deserve it St. John’s made more big plays at key times.”