Feb. 13, 2000
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – On Saturday, no invitation was necessary.
After the big win over St. John’s, Notre Dame coach Matt Doherty and his team had to ask the crowd to join them on the floor to celebrate.
When the final buzzer sounded, the crowd stormed the court to celebrate the 68-66 upset win over Connecticut.
Before Doherty could realize what was happening the first year head coach was on the students’ shoulders in true celebratory fashion. Yet in the press conference, Doherty reiterated that it is not him that the fans should be thanking.
“The students stormed the court and they lifted me up, which I’m a little embarrassed about,” Doherty said. “I think they should have lifted the players. They were the ones that fought the game.”
The game proved quite physical for the two teams. Sophomore Troy Murphy kept getting hammered down low time and again by UConn’s Kurt Voskuhl and Ajou Deng. Murphy still managed to drill home 18 points and grab 10 rebounds, acquiring his 16th double-double of the season.
For once, the Irish did not solely rely on Murphy’s play. His fellow classmate David Graves chipped in 17 points, including several clutch 3-pointers to help the Irish gain the lead in the second half.
Notre Dame went to the line 28 times in the contest. The Huskies found themselves in foul trouble. UConn’s Voskuhl played just 16 minutes in the contest. He scored just four points and managed to foul out in the final minute of the game.
“We need Jake on the floor and any time he’s off the floor it hurts our presence inside,” UConn’s Kevin Freeman said. “We need him out there as much as possible.”
The 68-66 victory marked the first time that Notre Dame has swept Connecticut in regular season play.
“We shot 56% from the floor, and I can’t remember the last time we shot over 50% and didn’t win the game,” UConn head coach Jim Calhoun said. “I don’t think that has happened in the 14 years I have been here.”
The Huskies managed to rally in the final minutes prompting the Joyce Center to rise off their seats. The game proved a nail biter until the final play.
With the final possession, the Huskies tried to secure the win with a 3-point attempt by Albert Mourning. Notre Dame’s Ivan Kartelo stepped up to meet him at the arc and managed to get a piece of the shot, securing the upset victory for the Irish.
“Coach Doherty told me to go out and contest the shot on the last play,” Kartelo said modestly. ” I got a piece of it – it was a good play.”
The win pushes Notre Dame’s record to 15-10 and 6-5 in the Big East.
“After the Pennsylvania trip, it was not very bright. You are talking about a tough trip,” Doherty said. “Coming out of a tough trip, we were in a good position for the NCAA Tournament, hopefully, we can put ourselves back in position. This is a step in the right direction.”