Jan. 29, 2012
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Eric Atkins scored 13 points and Jerian Grant hit three key free throws late as Notre Dame beat the number No. 24-ranked University of Connecticut men's basketball team by a 50-48 on Sunday before a soldout crowd of 16,294 at the XL Center in Hartford. The game was the third-straight win for the Irish and the third straight loss for the Huskies.
Grant had 11 points and Scott Martin added 10 for Notre Dame (14-8, 6-3 BIG EAST), who controlled the tempo throughout. Connecticut falls to 14-6 on the season and 4-4 in league play. Notre Dame trailed 24-21 at halftime, but went on a 13-0 run to open the second half.
Sophomore guard Jeremy Lamb (Norcross, Ga.) had 16 points to lead the Huskies and had a chance to tie the game after missing his second free throw with 2.3 seconds left on purpose. He grabbed the rebound of the miss but his off-balance follow bounced off the rim at the buzzer.
"If Jeremy's shot had gone in, I wasn't going to be jumping," Huskies coach Jim Calhoun said. "The game was lost over the 40 minutes. It particularly was lost as we began the second half."
UConn freshman Andre Drummond (Middletown, Conn.) had 15 points and 11 rebounds for UConn.
Notre Dame blocked three shots during its second-half run that turned a 24-21 deficit into a 34-24 lead. Scott Martin capped it with a 3-pointer from the top of the key.
Connecticut didn't have a field goal for the first seven minutes of the second half, but the Huskies trailed by just five points after a basket by Drummond and a three-pointer by Lamb. Drummond brought the crowd back into the game with a rebound, dunk and free throw that cut the deficit to 36-34 with 7:30 left in the game. But the Huskies never retook the lead.
A Notre Dame steal and a layup by Atkins pushed the lead to 44-38 with 4 minutes left. A driving layup by freshman Ryan Boatright (Aurora, Ill.) made it 45-42 with a minute left. A steal by sophomore Roscoe Smith (Baltimore, Md.) gave the Huskies a chance to tie, but sophomore Shabazz Napier (Roxbury, Mass.) missed a three-pointer and Pat Connaughton calmly hit two free throws on the other end.
An dunk by Drummond on an alley-oop pass from Napier made it 47-44 with 36 seconds left. UConn's defense forced an inbounds five-second call before the Irish could get a timeout. But Napier missed everything on another 3-point attempt. He was 0 for 7 from behind the arc. Grant hit three free throws around a 3-pointer from Lamb to make it 50-47. Notre Dame outrebounded UConn 33-29 including 11-7 on the offensive end.
The Huskies held the Irish to just 36 percent shooting in the first half. Notre Dame stayed in the game by hitting four of their nine 3-point attempts. They were 7 of 22 from long range for the game.
Drummond and Lamb carried UConn in the first half, scoring 15 of the team's 24 points. Those two were seven of 12 from the field while the rest of the team was four of 10.
Connecticut has been ranked in the Top 25 for 28 straight weeks, the fifth-longest stretch in program history, a run that is likely to end Monday.
"We're going through some hard times right now," Lamb said. "We just have to find a way to get through it."
The Huskies return to action on Wednesday when they travel to Georgetown for a 7:00 p.m. game at the Verizon Center. The game will be televised live on ESPN2 and can be heard on the WTIC-UConn Radio Network.