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Notre Dame hands Pitt second straight loss

Dec 28, 2011 - 5:34 AM South Bend, IN (Sports Network) - Alex Dragicevich scored a game-high 22 to lead Notre Dame to a 72-59 win over No. 22 Pittsburgh at the Joyce Center in the Big East opener for both programs.

Dragicevich connected on 4-of-7 from behind the arc while Eric Atkins added 15 points and Jerian Grant chipped in with 15 points and 9 assists for Notre Dame (9-5, 1-0 Big East), which outscored the Panthers 47-33 over the final 20 minutes.

Talib Zanna recorded a double-double by netting 13 points and grabbing 12 boards and Nasir Robinson scored 12 points for Pitt (11-3, 0-1), which has dropped two straight since winning nine in a row.

"Second half the defense just let down for us," Pittsburgh head coach Jamie Dixon said. "We are a team that has a lot of things to improve on and we will get there and we know we've got things to work on."

Pitt took a seven-point lead with under eight minutes to play in the first half, but the Irish scored seven straight to go ahead, 22-19, before entering the break down 26-25.

A three-pointer from Dragicevich in the second half sparked a 13-6 run that gave Notre Dame an eight-point lead, 48-40, with 11 minutes to play.

Notre dame was able to stretch its lead to 17 with 3:27 left in regulation on the back of Dragicevich, who scored 14 of his 22 in the second half, including a trio of baskets from three.

The Irish put an exclamation point on the win when Grant delivered a beautiful bounce pass to a streaking Jack Cooley, who slammed the ball through the basket as the home crowd erupted.

"I told our guys that I have been a part of a lot of fun wins; wins where I have been proud of a group. This one ranks up there with any of them," Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey said.

Game Notes

Notre Dame moved to 9-0 at home in 2011 and extended its streak of consecutive home wins to 28, fourth best in Division I...Pitt dropped its Big East opener for the first time in four years. The Panthers hold a 29-28 advantage all-time over the Irish.