Notre Dame sneaks past South Florida in OTMar 9, 2012 - 6:39 AM New York, NY (Sports Network) - Eric Atkins scored all six of his points in overtime, as No. 23 Notre Dame downed South Florida, 57-53, in Thursday's Big East Tournament quarterfinal matchup.
The Irish (22-10), who were playing their first game in the tournament after receiving a double bye, defeated South Florida for the seventh straight time. They will face Louisville on Friday in a rematch of last year's semifinal, which the Cardinals won in overtime.
Jerian Grant had 12 points and six assists in Thursday's victory while Pat Connaughton also scored 12 and made the tying free throw with 26 seconds left in regulation.
The Bulls (20-13) were paced by Victor Rudd's 16 points and seven rebounds while Anthony Collins chipped in 13 points and seven assists. They defeated Villanova on Wednesday and were up, 45-42, on Thursday with less than a minute left in regulation, but were unable to secure the win.
"We just came up a little bit short," said Bulls coach Stan Heath. "That's a very good basketball team in Notre Dame. Hats off to the way that they found a way to win."
South Florida was up 45-42 in the final minute of regulation before Grant stole the ball from Rudd and drew a foul in the process. He made both free throws to pull Notre Dame within one, 45-44, with 39 seconds left.
A wild sequence then ensued for USF's Jawanza Poland.
He received a pass behind the Notre Dame defense but missed an open layup before grabbing his own rebound and drawing the foul. He then was off on the front end of a 1-and-1 and fouled Connaughton after Notre Dame grabbed the rebound.
Connaughton made the first free throw, tying it at 45, but missed the second. South Florida held for the final shot, but Collins lost the ball after driving into the paint. The Bulls were awarded possession after a tie up, but a lob at the buzzer was unsuccessful.
Atkins opened overtime with a layup and later nailed a three from the top of the key to put Notre Dame up, 54-50, with 35 seconds left.
Rudd was then blocked on the other end and the ball fell to Notre Dame's Scott Martin, who quickly turned it over, resulting in Toarlyn Fitzpatrick's three- pointer with five seconds to play.
The Irish, though, made three foul shots the rest of the way, getting one from Atkins and two from Connaughton to seal the win.
"We believed that we could win," said Atkins. "I know I believed that we could get it done. We stayed poised down the stretch."
South Florida had started strong, opening with a 20-8 push before the Irish countered with 18 straight to go on top, 26-20, on Martin's jumper.
Notre Dame was up 28-26 at the break but Augustus Gilchrist's three-pointer put the Bulls up, 31-30, early in the second and triggered the back-and-forth finish.
The teams had never met previously in the Big East Tournament...Notre Dame improved to 9-16 all-time in the tournament...South Florida was attempting to win two games in the tournament for the first time in program history...Louisville downed No. 9 Marquette earlier Thursday.
- SOUTH FLORIDA: 53
NOTRE DAME: 57
Final - OT
Mar 8 11:56 PM
- SOUTH FLORIDA: 45
NOTRE DAME: 45
End of Regulation
Mar 8 11:36 PM
- SOUTH FLORIDA: 26
NOTRE DAME: 28
Mar 8 10:21 PM
- SOUTH FLORIDA: 0
NOTRE DAME: 0
1st Half - 20:00
Mar 8 9:39 PM
- Beachem says he'll be back at Notre Dame for senior season May 1
- Notre Dame's Beachem enters NBA draft, won't hire an agent Apr 12
- Jackson: Meeting with Brey, NCAA play led him to opt for NBA Mar 30
- Notre Dame's Jackson decides to enter NBA draft Mar 29
- Brey: Notre Dame's Jackson has to explore entering NBA draft Mar 28
- Notre Dame can't find one last run to beat North Carolina Mar 28
- North Carolina and Notre Dame know each other well Mar 26
- Wisconsin's road to 3rd straight Final 4 runs through Irish Mar 25
- Notre Dame finally finding March success under Brey Mar 23
- ND's Auguste at best in March, shooting 86 percent in NCAAs Mar 22
- Doing it all: Versatile Walkup, Stephen F. Austin face Irish Mar 19
- Michigan-Notre Dame is still a great rivalry Mar 17