Hansbrough, Notre Dame defeat UConnJan 5, 2011 - 4:15 AM South Bend, IN (Sports Network) - Ben Hansbrough scored 21 points, grabbed five rebounds and handed out four assists to lead 14th-ranked Notre Dame to a 73-70 win over eighth-rated Connecticut at Purcell Pavilion.
Tim Abromaitis supplied 19 points and seven rebounds while Scott Martin added 13 points for the Fighting Irish (13-2, 2-1 Big East),who have won five of their last six games.
Mike Brey became the sixth head coach in Big East history to win 100 regular season games after the Irish defeated UConn for a seventh time in 11 home meetings.
"We have a mentally and physically tough group," Brey said. "We weren't as tough in the paint as we needed to be in our last game and we really took the time to talk about that. They really wanted to make up for that tonight by playing great defense."
Kemba Walker totaled 19 points, seven boards and five assists and freshman Shabazz Napier added 18 points for the Huskies (11-2, 1-2), who have lost two of their last three after opening the season with 10 straight wins.
"We are a young team, but I also thought they did what they needed to do to win," Connecticut head coach Jim Calhoun said. "They physically handled us getting over screens and they physically handled us during rebounds. They pushed and bumped us. We all know this is a very physical league and they did a nice job with it. I think this is the most physical defensive team Mike (Brey) has had."
Trailing by eight entering the second half, Walker hit a jump shot to trim the Huskies' deficit to 50-48 with just over 12 minutes left before a Hansbrough three-pointer and two Tyrone Nash foul shots pushed the lead back to 57-51 with 9 1/2 left to go.
A Hansbrough layup four minutes later extended the Irish lead to 64-53 but UConn made a late push to put a serious scare into the hosts.
Walker hit two foul shots with 22.3 seconds to go to trim the lead to 70-68 before Abromaitis made 1-of-2 from the line leaving UConn an opportunity to tie the game.
However, Walker missed a quick three-point shot and Nash was seemingly able to sew up the victory with a pair of free throws with 12.5 ticks left.
But, Napier made a pair from the line two seconds later prior to Abromaitis missing a pair with nine seconds to play. Napier then hurried a shot from the left wing that missed everything and went out of bounds. Notre Dame was then able to run out the remaining few seconds to win the game.
After UConn scored the first three points of the game, the Irish ripped off the next 13, capped by back-to-back triples by Martin, to take a 10-point lead less than four minutes in.
Napier drained a triple to pull the Huskies to within 23-21 with slightly more than eight minutes remaining in the half before an Abromaitis trifecta stretched the Irish lead to 34-25 with a shade more than four minutes to play.
Abromaitis nailed a fallaway three-pointer to beat the buzzer to give Notre Dame a 38-30 lead at the intermission. The Irish knocked down 7-of-14 from beyond the arc in the first 20 minutes.
Connecticut shot 44 percent from the floor, marking the 14th time in 15 games that the Irish have held their opponents under 50 percent..Notre Dame finished 8-of-19 from beyond the arc and made only 19-of-31 foul shots...Abromaitis has scored in double figures 41 times in his career...Nash ended with 11 points and six caroms...Walker had scored 20 or more points in 11 games in a row before Tuesday, the third-longest streak in school history...He was 8-for-23 from the floor, including 0-of-5 from three-point territory, and added three steals...Roscoe Smith scored 11 points in defeat.
- CONNECTICUT: 70
NOTRE DAME: 73
Jan 4 9:08 PM
- CONNECTICUT: 30
NOTRE DAME: 38
Jan 4 7:51 PM
- CONNECTICUT: 0
NOTRE DAME: 0
1st Half - 20:00
Jan 4 7:05 PM
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