Mar 15, 2013, 2:54 AM EST
As excited as Notre Dame might be to begin playing in the ACC, the Irish aren’t quite ready to say goodbye to the BIG EAST yet.
Trailing 17-4 early against Marquette, it had the makings of a long night in the World’s Most Famous Arena. The shots weren’t falling (the team started 2-for-16 from the field) and it seemed like the only bright spots that had carried over from Wednesday night were the adidas shoes and uniforms.
But Notre Dame went on a 25-8 run and took a four-point lead into the locker room, before outlasting the Golden Eagles during a back-and-forth second half, securing a 73-65 win at Madison Square Garden.
There were five ties and 13 lead changes. It was the type of exciting game you would expect out of the final BIG EAST tournament (or “final BIG EAST tournament as we know it,” I should say).
During the team’s meeting on Thursday morning, head coach Mike Brey urged Jerian Grant to not let mistakes get in his head, or in his way of making the next big play. The junior guard obviously heard his coach’s advice, finishing the game with 17, to go along with six rebounds and six assists.
Coming off the bench, Garrick Sherman played 24 minutes and scored 16 points, including 10 in the second half.
And for the second straight night, it was Pat Connaughton who led Notre Dame offensively. Though the Irish baseball team would probably love to have him on the mound, the sophomore is looking to play hoops deep into March. After scoring 21 points and making six threes on Wednesday, Connaughton tallied 18 on 6-for-10 shooting beyond the arc against Marquette. He’s 12-for-18 from three-point range in the tournament so far.
It was the second tournament meeting between the two Catholic schools, but unlike 2008, when #6 seed Marquette defeated #3 seed Notre Dame, this year, it was the Irish that pulled the #6-over-#3 upset. On a day after a Jesuit was selected to be the new pope, you might say this was a little victory for the Congregation of Holy Cross.
With the win, the Fighting Irish advance to their fourth straight BIG EAST semifinal, where for the third consecutive year, they will meet – who else? The Louisville Cardinals.
If you’re a BIG EAST junkie, it doesn’t get any better than Friday’s semifinal pairings. Conference heavyweights and founding members Syracuse and Georgetown battle at 7 pm, before recent rivals and future ACC foes Notre Dame and Louisville meet at 9:30ish. Both the Orange and Irish will be looking to avenge losses in last week’s regular season finales.
Notre Dame now finds itself one win away from earning its first (and last) coveted spot in Saturday’s BIG EAST championship game at The Garden. It only seems right that the Irish will have to go through Louisville to get there.
Rest up. Friday is going to be fun night to be a college hoops fan.
Side note: For a little added entertainment, check out Coach Brey encouraging Eric Atkins to bank in his free throw after air-balling his first attempt.
About In The Paint
Women’s Basketball on YouTube
- '16 @ndwbb Signee ✔️ All-American ✔️ Record Holder ✔️ and now .... Homecoming Queen! Congrats Erin Boley 👑 https://t.co/aabm89NSeq 9 hours ago
- RT @ESPN_WomenHoop: .@SkyDigg4 and @mistyonpointe channel their inner "Zoolander" on the runway for #NYFW. es.pn/1Soi5ER @ndwbb 11 hours ago
- A bit of post-practice fun today with Hannah and Madison 🎙 #interviewskills https://t.co/chpQhszKa4 12 hours ago
- Coach McGraw had a special surprise this morning from the team! A little Pre-Valentines gift 💓🍀 https://t.co/tNT1zkQjFs 15 hours ago
- Expecting handful of @ndwbb alums this wknd for Pink Zone! Molly Peirick Busam and family stopped in yesterday 🍀 https://t.co/4M9nqNJfkq 17 hours ago
Men’s Basketball on YouTube
- GOODNIGHT. Let's start chasin' another ACC title on Sunday. https://t.co/YxSw9wSIJh 5 hours ago
- KEY STAT TO OUR WIN OVER #13 UL UL came in outscoring opponents by 15.6 points in paint. TODAY? ND 30 | UL 20 https://t.co/ARhBfTyc6x 8 hours ago
- PHOTOS OF THE GAME: DJ's "D" VJ's layup Bonzie's Rebound Steve's Drive FINAL SCORE: ND 71 | #13 UL 66 https://t.co/nk05xhzguQ 9 hours ago
- RT @jordancornette: University of Notre Dame Men's Basketball. "Guard U." #Irish 9 hours ago
- THIS guy just won his 350th game at ND (2nd to do so) & first thing he does? THE BUMP. Loosest. Coach. In. America. https://t.co/yyyGN856nh 10 hours ago