Dec. 2, 2000
By TERESA M. WALKER
AP Sports Writer
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – Eleventh-ranked Notre Dame doesn’t have to hit the road again until January, and the Fighting Irish are very thankful about that.
David Graves scored 13 of his 19 points in the second half, including a 3-pointer with 3:44 left that gave Notre Dame the lead for good in a 77-74 win over Vanderbilt on Saturday night.
“This is a tough place to play, especially against a team like Vanderbilt that’s so potent,” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. “This is something for us to build on. We grew up tonight.”
Notre Dame (4-0) trailed by 13 in the first half and never led by more than the final margin against Vanderbilt (6-1), which was starting three freshmen. It looked like Vanderbilt would beat the Fighting Irish for the third straight season until Graves put Notre Dame ahead 73-72 on his third 3 of the second half.
“We didn’t come out in the first half,” Notre Dame forward Troy Murphy said. “We didn’t play defense until the last five minutes. Last year we wouldn’t have won this game. This year we were ready, and that’s a tribute to Coach Brey.”
Vanderbilt managed just one basket in the final 4:46, and only the Commodores kept themselves from taking the lead back.
Trailing 75-74, they missed a shot after getting the ball off a five-second call on Martin Ingelsby. Billy Richmond stole the ball from Notre Dame’s Ryan Humphrey, but Greg LaPointe give it back with a pass to Murphy.
LaPointe, Vanderbilt’s leading scorer, missed the front end of a one-and-one with 44.6 seconds left before Graves drove the lane for a bucket and the final margin.
The Commodores had one last attempt, but Sam Howard’s off-balance 3 was wide.
“We should have won this game,” Vandy forward Anthony Williams said.
Vandy coach Kevin Stallings wasn’t as sure. He saw how his team, consisting of four lettermen from last season, five freshmen and a transfer student, struggled after losing its 13-point lead.
“We’re not mature enough to understand what you really need to do in those situations,” Stallings said.
Humphrey led Notre Dame with a career-high 24 points. Murphy, who had been averaging 28 points per game, added 23.
Chuck Moore led Vandy with 15 points, all in the second half. Matt Freije and Williams each added 11, and Richmond had 10. LaPointe, in foul trouble much of the game, had just six points.
Notre Dame hadn’t been challenged while easily winning its first three games, all in the state of Indiana, but the Irish didn’t lead until Humphrey’s bucket with 17:41 left in the game at 42-41.
Vanderbilt led by 13 twice in the first half, the last on an inside bucket by Williams at 39-26 with 4:20 left. Foul trouble hurt the Commodores as Notre Dame was 12-of-16 at the line in the first half compared to just two trips for the Commodores.
Murphy finally got the Fighting Irish going as he keyed a 10-0 run with five points, including a dunk, to pull Notre Dame within 39-36 at halftime.
The lowlight of the half came with 1:32 left in the first half. When LaPointe picked up his third personal, a few fans tossed souvenir balls onto the court. Stallings walked to midcourt, picked up a microphone and snapped, “Hey, that’s not how we act here.”