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Notre Dame dominates Cincinnati, advances to Big East semis

Mar 11, 2011 - 4:38 AM New York, NY (Sports Network) - Ben Hansbrough finished with 23 points and six assists to lead fourth-ranked Notre Dame in an 89-51 rout of No. 25 Cincinnati in the quarterfinals of the Big East Tournament.

Carleton Scott added 18 points, six rebounds and four blocks for the Fighting Irish (26-5), who were driven by an extremely successful offensive effort. They shot 56 percent, drained 9-of-19 three-pointers, and tallied 22 assists on 32 made field goals.

Their offense was also well balanced -- Tim Abromaitis provided 17 points and six boards, while Scott Martin had 11 points. The Irish will face Louisville on Friday.

Dion Dixon netted 15 points to pace the Bearcats (25-8), who had defeated South Florida on Wednesday. Yancy Gates had 12 points in the setback.

Notre Dame used three-point shooting to build leads quickly. Back-to-back makes by Hansbrough and Abromaitis gave the Irish an 11-3 advantage, and Abromaitis drilled another during a seven-point run that expanded the lead to 20-10 midway through the first half.

"Obviously we were ready to play," said Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey. "We got out of the gate great. Our offensive efficiency was excellent."

Cincinnati stayed in the game despite Notre Dame's shooting success, and drew within 35-30 when Justin Jackson dropped in a layup with 2:10 to go.

However, Hansbrough followed with two free throws, Scott ended the period's scoring with a three, and the Irish rolled into halftime with a 40-30 lead.

While small, that burst was critical to the Bearcats' chances. They traded baskets with Notre Dame for the first three-plus minutes of the second half, but never trimmed their deficit to single digits.

It might not have mattered, anyway, considering Notre Dame's offensive performance.

The Irish netted nine consecutive points -- scoring on four straight possessions -- to get the margin to 58-39. They then took advantage of a four- minute scoreless stretch by the Bearcats to run off eight more points in a row, claiming a 68-43 lead on Scott's jumper with 10:14 to play.

Notre Dame cemented the win by ending the game on a 15-0 run, pouring in baskets as Cincinnati's offense faltered. The Bearcats didn't score a point in the final seven minutes.

Game Notes

The Irish won for the 12th time in their last 13 games...Notre Dame advanced to the tourney semifinals for the second consecutive year and fourth time in school history...The Bearcats shot 33 percent, making only five of 22 three- point tries.