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Harangody helps Notre Dame finish perfect at home

Feb 25, 2007 - 3:12 AM SOUTH BEND, Indiana (Ticker) -- Freshman Luke Harangody is a big reason why Notre Dame is looking at a return to the NCAA Tournament.

Harangody scored a season-high 22 points as the No. 23 Fighting Irish wrapped up a perfect season at home with an 85-73 victory over 16th-ranked Marquette in a Big East Conference showdown.

A participant in the NIT last season, Notre Dame (22-6, 10-5 Big East) rebounded from a slow start to capture sole possession of fourth place in the Big East standings and a first-round bye in the upcoming league tournament.

The Fighting Irish also finished their season at home with an 18-0 mark, becoming just the third team in school history to post an undefeated record at home since 1968.

In all, Notre Dame has won its last 20 games at the Joyce Center - the longest home winning streak under coach Mike Brey.

"I told the seniors that they can hand the streak off to the younger guys and they can work on it next year, but we won't be back here this year," Brey said.

Harangody shot just 7-of-20 from the field but converted 8-of-9 free throws. He also tied a season high with 13 rebounds, including nine on the offensive end.

"I thought that was one of the key points to our loss," Marquette guard Dominic James said about Harangody. "He did a great job. He gained a lot of confidence after each bucket he made. We probably weren't as physical with him as we needed to be."

Notre Dame freshman Tory Jackson also had a season-high 21 points and Colin Falls sank four 3-pointers en route to becoming the all-time leader with 184 in conference games.

"I didn't even know how many I had tonight," said Falls, who has 313 career 3-pointers. "It's a cool thing, but I've taken a lot of threes and I've had a lot of great guys to play with. I'm proud of it, but I have to keep the bigger picture in mind."

Despite falling behind, 20-8, at the start, the Irish closed the first half with a 13-3 run to grab a 42-36 lead at intermission.

Brey believed that the slow start was brought about because of the pregame ceremony that honored seniors Falls, Russell Carter and reserve Kieran Piller.

"With all the senior stuff, I think it can be a distraction," Brey said. "I think maybe for the first few minutes it was, but we were able to settle in. We started defending and we were flowing offensively. We just got a pretty good rhythm."

That rhythm extended into the second half behind Harangody, who used his bulk inside to extend the cushion.

After a follow shot by Zach Hillesland gave Notre Dame a 61-53 advantage with 9:14 remaining, Harangody proceeded to score eight straight points to push the lead to 69-57 with just over 5 1/2 minutes to play.

"I threw up a couple lucky ones, probably, and I was kind of feeling it there for a second," Harangody said. "Coach had put a lot of confidence in me, so that was nice, too."

Although the game was all but decided, emotions ran high in the closing minutes as three technical fouls were assessed over the final 3:35.

The first two came when James was angered on a foul by Harangody that sent Jerel McNeal hard to the floor. He pushed Harangody, leading to harsh words with Hillesland and technicals for both players.

"I thought we kept our poise," said James, who had 14 points and eight assists. "It's an emotional game - this rivalry has a lot of tradition behind it and things like that. We knew it was going to be a battle."

The final occurred with just 22 seconds left after Marquette forward Dan Fitzgerald took exception to being bumped by Harangody on a chase for a loose ball. Fitzgerald responded by pushing the freshman out of bounds after the play was whistled over. The Golden Eagles (22-8, 9-6), who fell to fifth in the Big East with their fourth loss in their last five games, got no closer than seven points thereafter.

Wesley Matthews scored 17 points and McNeal chipped in 16 for Marquette, which shot 36 percent (24-of-67) and was outrebounded, 47-44.

"We want to go home and really shore some things up," Golden Eagles coach Tom Crean said. "We need to work on our defense; we had to zone a lot more than we would have wanted, and that was certainly just to keep people in the game. We have to become more efficient on our offense and do a better job blocking out."

    --- --- -----
    MARQUETTE (16) 36 37 73
    NOTRE DAME (23) 42 43 85 FINAL

    Feb 24 5:54 PM

    MARQUETTE (16) 36

    Feb 24 4:35 PM
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    RUWTbot Added 17 roots

    Marquette vs. Notre DameFeb 24 4:35 PM