Nov. 27, 2009
CHICAGO (AP) – Northwestern’s 1-3-1 defense made Notre Dame work for its shots, and a lot of the ones the Irish did let fly Friday night misfired.
Northwestern’s offense was OK, too. John Shurna had a career-high 25 points and freshman Alex Marcotullio shut off rallies with two key 3-pointers as the Wildcats upset No. 23 Notre Dame 72-58 in the Chicago Invitational Challenge.
“We felt that we had a great chance to win,” said Northwestern guard Michael Thompson, who had 20 points.
“Coach wanted us to focus on (Luke) Harangody and close out on the shooters. With the 1-3-1 we did a great job of getting a hand on a lot of passes.”
Harangody, often double and triple teamed, finished with 21 points. But the Irish shot only 32 percent for the game and guard Ben Hansbrough was 1-for-10 and 0-for-7 on 3-point attempts. He entered the game shooting 59 percent from the floor and 67 percent from behind the arc.
“(Harangody) wasn’t under the basket as much where he is most effective and Hansbrough … we were just trying to close out and be there right on the catch,” Thompson said.
“It was just one of those nights where things didn’t go right for me,” said Harangody, who shot 7 for 19.
“We knew they were going to come in and run the 1-3-1. It wasn’t anything we didn’t expect. I think we just missed some shots we usually hit and weren’t able to get on a run and get in a flow.”
Northwestern (4-1) will face Iowa State in the final Saturday night at the UIC Pavilion. The Cyclones (6-0) pulled away in the second half to beat Saint Louis 65-54 on Friday night.
Northwestern built a 12-point lead in the second half before the Irish (5-1) rallied. They were within one when Marcotullio sank a 3-pointer. When Notre Dame chopped it to 58-56, Marcotullio hit another 3-pointer with two minutes left.
Shurna then worked his way inside for a basket with a minute remaining and the Wildcats hit nine free throws to close it out.
“We had a hard time with him. We had a couple of different guys on him and he had 14 at half and he was really hard to guard tonight,” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said of Shurna, a 6-foot-8 sophomore.
“I think it was my teammates finding me in good positions to score,” Shurna said. “I’m not trying to force things, but I think if there is an opportunity to make plays, you’ve got to go ahead and do it.”
Thompson hit a 3-pointer and drove for a basket, Jeremy Nash sank a 3, Luka Mirkovic worked inside for a basket and Shurna also scored during a 12-0 run that opened up a 50-38 lead with 12 minutes to go.
The Irish then caught up by picking up their defense and getting to the line. Harangody made four free throws, Carleton Scott dunked, Tim Abromaitis hit a 3-pointer, Scott made two free throws and Harangody had a layup in a 13-2 run that cut it to 52-51 with just over seven minutes left.
Marcotullio ended Northwestern’s three-minute drought with a 3-pointer and added two free throws to extend the lead to six.
Abromaitis hit a 3-pointer to make it 58-54 and the Irish missed three straight 3-point attempts on the same possession. But after the Irish blocked a layup attempt by Shurna, Abromaitis worked free for a layup and Northwestern’s lead was down to 58-56 with 2:18 remaining.
But Marcotullio, who finished with 13 points, connected again from 3-point range to rescue the Wildcats.
Northwestern led 30-27 at the half.