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Carter, Notre Dame rebound, top No. 21 West Virginia

Jan 10, 2007 - 6:10 AM SOUTH BEND, Indiana (Ticker) -- Russell Carter and Notre Dame reminded West Virginia that being home can be a very good thing.

Carter scored 19 points as the Fighting Irish bounced back from the end of a lengthy winning streak with a 61-58 victory over the 21st-ranked Mountaineers in the Big East Conference.

Colin Falls had 14 points and freshman Luke Harangody added 11 for Notre Dame (14-2, 2-1 Big East), which had a 12-game run come to an end with Saturday's 66-48 loss at Georgetown. It returned home to improve to 12-0 at the Joyce Center this season.

"I'm proud of how we bounced back after a tough afternoon at Georgetown," Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said.

Trying to recover from a rough first half, West Virginia (13-2, 3-1) managed to close within 61-58 on a 3-pointer by Frank Young with 5.1 seconds left.

The Mountaineers fouled, putting Rob Kurz on the free-throw line with 3.9 seconds remaining. The 6-9 junior missed the front end of a 1-and-1, and Young grabbed the rebound but failed to get off a final shot as he raced up the right sideline.

"With 2.9 seconds left, it's a three-dribble play and he's just got to let it go," West Virginia coach John Beilein said. "But he hasn't been in many of those situations. He probably could have pitched it. We had no timeouts left at that time, so hopefully he can get it off before then. He just misjudged the clock."

"I never felt we were going to have breathing room on them," Brey said. "A league win is a league win, you scratch them out anyway you can."

Kurz finished with eight points and 11 rebounds for Notre Dame, which improved to 3-0 against ranked teams this season, beating both Maryland and Alabama in December.

"We've got a great resume but you still have to qualify for the Big East Tournament first and we aren't going to get ahead of ourselves," Brey said. "But we have some quality wins and this was one tonight. This was a very good team."

It was the first loss in nine games for West Virginia, which was off to a surprising 3-0 start in the league after posting home wins over Connecticut, Villanova and St. John's by a combined 48 points.

Despite the strong start to league play, the Mountaineers struggled early in their first road game since December 9. Normally a strong shooting team, they went 32 percent (9-of-28) from the field, including 2-of-8 on 3-pointers, in the first half to fall behind, 31-21, at intermission.

"Our first half should be characteristic of a young team, but it was just uncharacteristic of this team so far," Beilein said. "At halftime, I didn't really know what to say because there were so many things."

With Young scoring 10 of his 13 points in the second half, the Mountaineers attempted to rally, closing within five points on four different occasions before being turned away.

The last time nearly brought West Virginia back as Notre Dame committed a turnover and Carter missed a 3-pointer on its two possessions after the Mountaineers closed within 55-50 with 3:19 to play.

After a pair of offensive rebounds by Rob Summers, Darris Nichols sank his second shot from the arc to make it 55-53 with 1:53 remaining.

However, Harangody made two free throws, Colin Falls blocked a jumper by Alex Ruoff and Carter added a jumper to rebuild the Irish's advantage to 59-53 with 40 seconds left.

Freshman forward Da'Sean Butler came back with a layup for West Virginia and, after two free throws by Kurz, Young connected on his fourth 3-pointer with 5.1 ticks left.

Overall, the Mountaineers shot 8-of-18 from the arc in the second half before falling to the Irish for the 14th time in the last 18 encounters.

"I loved that they really adjusted and did a great job in the second half," Beilein said. "Scoring 37 points in the second half was terrific. And just giving up 30, our defense was fairly consistent against a team that scores much more than this."

Ruoff scored 14 points and Butler added nine and 10 boards for West Virginia, which held a 33-30 advantage in rebounding, but shot just 38 percent (23-of-61) from the field.