Feb. 9, 2000
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Notre Dame coach Matt Doherty issued another apology on Tuesday night.
He apologized for his team not showing up in the 86-69 loss to Villanova.
“This is the same team that beat UConn at UConn,” Doherty said. “If you saw us for the first time, you wouldn’t think so. I’m sorry we didn’t show up.”
It proved to be an off and on night for the Irish. At one point one player was hot while another was not. The first half proved a strong showing for Troy Murphy, as he scored 14 points. By the time the second half rolled around, he could not get a single shot to fall. The sophomore did manage to grab 16 rebounds to lead the team, and register his 15th double-double of the season.
In the first half, the play of Matt Carroll seemed hardly noteworthy but then in the second half he turned it on. The guard finished with 17 points, 15 of which came in the second half.
Sophomore forward David Graves turned in an 11 point effort and was the only other player to score in double digits.
Villanova remains the thorn in Notre Dame’s side. In Notre Dame’s five years in the Big East, the team has yet to defeat Villanova in seven games. This season the Irish are 2-8 when they are away from the Joyce Center.
The play from behind the arc killed the Irish. Villanova surpassed its conference highs in 3-pointers, as they drilled eleven of them home. Jermaine Medley hit four from downtown and finished with a career-high 17 points.
While Notre Dame rotated between their standard zone defense and man-to-man, they could not stop the Wildcats. On the other hand, Villanova’s aggressive man-to-man defense really hindered Notre Dame’s play. The Irish turned over the ball 26 times which is more than double what they did against Pitt.
Doherty’s squad does not have much time to dwell on the loss. They are set to face the 12th ranked Huskies of Connecticut on Saturday. The game will take place at the Joyce Center in front of a sold out crowd.
Notre Dame now is jockeying for a solid position in the opening round of the Big East tournament. With a successful run in the conference tournament, the Irish might just get a bid for March Madness. The team must first turn around its regular season losing streak and finish on a high note which all begins on Saturday against UConn.