Jan. 24, 2009
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) –Hasheem Thabeet and Jeff Adrien stood at the top of the key as the final seconds ran out, held their arms high and smiled widely at the Notre Dame crowd.
Just as third-ranked Connecticut predicted all week, the Huskies ended the nation’s longest home winning streak at 45 games by beating No. 19 Notre Dame 69-61 on Saturday. The victory kept the Fighting Irish from setting the Big East record with their 21st straight league win at home.
Adrien said he and Thabeet were sending the Irish fans a message.
“Just to let them know that we’re here. This is UConn. This is our gym right now and you guys should be quiet,” said Adrien, who had 12 points and a career-high 19 rebounds.
The Huskies (18-1, 7-1) held Notre Dame (12-6, 3-4) to a season-low 33 percent shooting and used a 13-1 run to put the game away.
“We went out there and we executed,” said A.J. Price, who finished with 13 points. “We played defense, we got stops, we got rebounds and we ran. We did everything we wanted to do and played Connecticut basketball.”
UConn coach Jim Calhoun said he couldn’t have asked more from his team, other than better free-throw shooting. The Huskies were just 15-of-30 from the free-throw line.
“We contested every shot. We got a piece of 15 balls at different times on passes and we ran and put pressure on them offensively and defensively,” he said.
Hasheem Thabeet had nine points, 11 rebounds and five blocks, but his biggest contribution was simply clogging the lane and forcing the Irish to alter their shots.
“It showed up in the fact that terrific players missing shots from point-blank range,” Calhoun said. “They won’t miss those again. But his presence does that to you.”
Kyle McAlarney, after hitting his first three 3-pointers, missed his next 15 shots and finished with only nine points for Notre Dame.
Luke Harangody was 10-of-23 from the field for 24 points. It was the 11th straight game with at least 20 points for Harangody, who also had 15 rebounds for his eighth straight double-double. The rest of the Irish starters were 8-of-39 from the field, or 21 percent shooting, for 22 points.
“We didn’t knock down some shots we normally knock down,” Irish coach Mike Brey said.
UConn’s three reserves scored 20 points, and Jerome Dyson led the way with 15 points.
Calhoun said the Huskies were just too quick for the Irish.
It’s the first time in three years the Irish have lost three straight and their first loss at home since an 80-72 defeat by Marquette on Feb. 25, 2006. Notre Dame has only beaten four ranked teams during the streak
Kansas now has the nation’s longest home winning streak at 35 games.
Brey said the streak ending comes almost as a relief.
“That’s probably the tightest we’ve played during the streak. I feel we played like the weight of the world was on us,” he said.
It was third straight game against a ranked opponent for the Irish, who host No. 11 Marquette on Monday and play at No. 4 Pittsburgh on Jan. 31. Notre Dame has never played five consecutive ranked teams during the regular season.
McAlarney said the Joyce Center will still be an advantage for the Irish.
“I think we can still look at this place and feel very confident here,” he said. “I don’t think we should take it as it’s the end.”