Irish defeat UW for title
Carleton Scott and Eric Atkins scored 12 points apiece, leading Notre Dame past Wisconsin,
58-51, on Sunday night to claim the Old Spice Classic championship.
The Irish (7-0) scored 15 straight points in the final four minutes to pull away, overcoming an 11-point second-half deficit to go home with a huge tournament victory for a revamped team suddenly beaming with confidence.
“I think we showed a lot of people out there that we still have some fight in us,” said Tim Abromaitis, who had 10 points and nine rebounds for the Irish and was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.
Notre Dame came through when it counted most.
Ben Hansbrough stripped Jordan Taylor and converted a three-point play on the other end over Taylor with 19 seconds remaining to highlight Notre Dame’s run. The Irish shot free throws the rest of the way, finishing 20 for 25 from the stripe to beat a pesky Wisconsin team.
Jon Leuer had 19 points and Taylor had 14 points for the Badgers (4-2) before fouling out on Hansbrough’s layup.
“They had some guys that made timely baskets and timely free throws, and that’s how you win those kind of grinders,” Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said. “And both our teams will be in more of them before the season’s out.”
The Irish might already be considered overachievers.
With mainstays Luke Harangody and Tory Jackson gone, the burden fell upon seniors Hansbrough, Scott and Tyrone Nash and grad student Abromaitis—all back from a 23-win team last year that lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament to Old Dominion.
Notre Dame won its third in-season tournament title in 11 seasons under coach Mike Brey. The 7-0 mark also matched the 2001-02 team for Brey’s best start at Notre Dame.
The Badgers beat Manhattan and Boston College by double-digits in the tournament before taking on Notre Dame in the final.
The Badgers went ahead by eight points in the first half, building enough cushion to overcome some shooting lapses.
Notre Dame scored the last 11 points of the half to take a 22-19 lead at the break.
Leuer, Taylor and Tim Jarmusz hit consecutive three-pointers to highlight a 9-0 Wisconsin spurt in the second half to eventually go ahead by 11.
Notre Dame found its rhythm and clamped down defensively. Wisconsin was smothered at both ends of the court, and its frustrations mounted when Abromaitis grabbed Scott Martin’s missed free throw for a put-back layup that gave Notre Dame a 50-48 lead with 1:58 left.
The Irish never trailed again.