Mountaineers can’t keep up, fall to Irish
West Virginia played physical, kept the tempo at a preferred
slower pace and was rebounding aggressively for most of the first
half Tuesday night. That’s why the Mountaineers were within two
points of No. 20 Notre Dame at the break.
In the second half the flow got away from them. And so did the
Notre Dame broke out with a 17-4 run starting the second half
and then it was a runaway as the Irish coasted to a 71-44
”They got us in transition and then we panicked and took quick
shots,” West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said.
”Quick shots and bad shots – that’s a recipe for what happened.
We got so many young guys that they panicked. … We’re not
athletic. We’re probably the most non-athletic team in the league.
When you’re non-athletic you start taking some quick shots and all
of a sudden they’re running at you, you’ve got problems.”
The Mountaineers (17-11, 7-8 Big East) had plenty of them as
they lost for the sixth time in eight games.
Kevin Jones had 15 points for West Virginia, which shot just
31.5 percent and made only 6 of 27 field goal attempts after
halftime. And the Mountaineers misfired on 10 of their 11 3-point
Even worse, said Jones, was the Mountaineers’ effort after they
fell so far behind.
”When we left them open, they made shots. … when they left us
open, we were not able to make shots,” Jones said. ”They just had
it going. It’s frustrating but we have to learn how to play through
it. We did not. We kind of gave up at a certain point. That is not
acceptable no matter how bad we are losing and no matter how many
shots they are making.
”We can never give up and we did,” Jones said.
Jerian Grant scored 20 points and had a couple of acrobatic
dunks, Notre Dame made 9 of 16 3-point attempts, shot 61 percent
overall and outscored West Virginia 41-16 after the break.
Scott Martin added 15 points and Jack Cooley and Eric Atkins had
13 each for the Irish, who were not expected to be contenders after
losing three starters from a year ago and then Tim Abromatis early
this season to a knee injury.
Now the Irish (20-8, 12-3) have not lost since Jan. 16 at
Rutgers and are 15-1 at the Purcell Pavilion. It’s the first time
in program history Notre Dame has won nine straight Big East
”They really wanted that record,” Brey said. ”It’s really
special for this group to do it.”
Notre Dame’s quickness began to show in the first 5 minutes of
the second half after the Irish led 30-28 at halftime.
Atkins’ three-point play, a steal leading to a dunk by Grant and
Grant’s 3-pointer after an offensive rebound built a 10-point lead.
After a timeout, Atkins hit a jumper and Martin connected on a
3-pointer and the 17-4 run put the Irish up 47-32.
Grant took off on a dunk attempt with just less than 10 minutes
to play and lost the ball on his way to the rim. But he hustled and
came up with the ball in the corner and hit a 3-pointer to give the
Irish a 58-35 lead.
”We just got into a rhythm and once this teams get into a
rhythm I think we can beat a lot of teams,” said Grant, whose
emergence has been one of the big keys in Notre Dame’s tear.
”We just got flowing and obviously our defense held them to 16
points in the second half.”
Just to show how things have been going for the Irish, Cooley
tossed up a shot after a timeout had been called and it swished
through late in the first half. He scored nine of his 11 points in
the final 5 minutes of the first half as the Irish shrugged off a
sluggish start and took a two-point lead behind 63 percent
West Virginia’s Darryl Bryant, scoreless in the first meeting
between the teams, a 55-51 Irish win in Morgantown on Feb. 8, had
10 points in the first half and none in the second.