NOTRE DME 'BURNS' PITT
by RAY MERNAGH
Rebound and control tempo.
That was the plan of the Notre Dame staff to come into the Pete and do the unthinkable — win against a team looking more and more like a national championship contender. It’s the same plan that carries the Fighting Irish to two wins over the Panthers last season, although neither of those wins was accomplished at the Peterson Events Center, where Pittsburgh had won 51 of their last 52 games.
Rebounding and controlling tempo would be the key, while easier said than done was the thought rolling around my brain.
And then a Notre Dame went out and did it, dusting off their ‘Burn’ offense from a year ago and handing Jamie Dixon and his club their first conference loss of the season.
Scott Martin handled the first shift, hitting three three-pointers late in the shot clock in the first half, two of which came on the first two offensive possessions of the game for the Irish.
Carleton Scott took the second and third shifts, making big shots all night long. Scott, an Irish captain who’s absence over the recent road trip by the Irish coincided with their difficulties getting any wins, is back and better than ever. Scott’s three at the 7:12 mark was punctuated by the fact that he was fouled on the make by Pitt’s Brad Wanamaker.
When Scott’s free throw went down to complete the four-point play, Notre Dame had stretched a one point lead to five, 46-41.
Then Ben Hansbrough did what he sometime has been known to do — he went off and there was nothing Pitt could do to stop him in the last five minutes of the game.
Hansbrough raised up on Gary McGhee for a deep two with 4:29 left to make it 49-45 ND.
Hansbrough took turns taking a trio of Pitt defenders to the basket for layups. First he took McGhee when the big man switched out on him — 51-47 ND. Then he took Gibbs off the bounce, spun and laid it in – 53-49 ND.
The final nail in Pitt’s coffin happened with 17 seconds left and Pitt down three, desperately needing a stop. Hansbrough again went to the basket and scored.
A win on the road in the Big East is huge and there were all kinds of numbers being thrown around by the Irish SID post-game as Mike Brey, Hansbrough and Scott approached the podium. But Brey knew the most important one.
“It’s our sixth Big East win,” said Brey.
Responding to a question of how much easier it is with Scott back in the lineup Brey quipped “I geel better seeing Carleton in the layup line, let alone in the game, but really we need our four captains to be at our best and they all helped us tonight.”
Hansbrough was the man but he was quick to give credit to Scott who scored 16 points (5-6 from deep) and 9 rebounds. “That four point play was huge,” said Hansbrough, “we won by five, if that play doesn’t happen who knows what goes down late.” Pitt will bounce back.
They are 19-2 and 7-1 in the Big East and a serious threat to win a national title.
But tonight was all about the Irish.
Ben Hansbrough and his guys came into the Pete and did the unthinkable.
Mission — and gameplan — accomplished.
Notre Dame 56, Pitt 51
Labels: pittsburgh news