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McAlarney leads Notre Dame over Villanova

Jan 26, 2008 - 10:04 PM PHILADELPHIA (Ticker) -- Notre Dame finally found a comfort level on the road.

Kyle McAlarney scored 30 points as the Fighting Irish posted their first road win of the season Saturday with a 90-80 victory over No. 18 Villanova in a Big East Conference contest.

While Notre Dame has won a school-record 31 straight games at home, it lost its first two road contests in league play this season to Marquette and Georgetown by an average of 22.5 points.

But the Fighting Irish (14-4, 4-3 Big East) were a different team against Villanova, relying on strong outside shooting to hand the Wildcats their second straight defeat.

"Maybe we grew up a little bit," Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. "We are proud of it, and happy, considering the past two Saturdays weren't too good for us on the road."

McAlarney, who played poorly in last Saturday's loss at Georgetown, led that effort by making 10-of-15 shots, including 5-of-8 from 3-point range.

"I just came out and said that I am going to look for my shot, just be aggressive and take what the defense gives me," said McAlarney, who scored only 10 points against the Hoyas on 4-of-15 shooting.

Notre Dame shot 51 percent (27-of-53) from the field, including 9-of-21 from beyond the arc.

"I got on him (McAlarney) the last two days about being more selfish," Brey added. "He is turning some stuff (shots) down. He has to take some bad ones (shots) every now and then because he is going to make the tough ones."

Luke Harangody dominated inside for the Irish with 25 points and 10 rebounds. He also converted 9-of-13 from the line.

Overall, Notre Dame made 27-of-38 free throws, compared to just 9-of-12 for Villanova.

"We wanted to throw the first punch," Harangody said. "The last two weekends against Marquette and Georgetown, they got up on us early. We did a good job coming out strong and set the tempo."

The Wildcats (13-5, 3-3) were coming off a disappointing 80-68 defeat to Rutgers and may have been affected by that poor performance against Notre Dame, which was in control Saturday after Villanova scored the game's first four points.

After Villanova opened a 4-0 lead, McAlarney got hot for Notre Dame, scoring 10 points in a 15-6 spurt. The Fighting Irish never trailed thereafter.

"It (the fast start) was huge," McAlarney said. "It got us some confidence, and opened things up for Luke down low."

"Kyle McAlarney was just awesome," Villanova coach Jay Wright added. "He played like a big-time player. He hit daggers anytime we thought about getting close."

In a 68-67 win over Louisiana State on December 6, Villanova rallied from a 21-point deficit in the second half, then overcame a 16-point hole to defeat DePaul, 76-69, on January 16.

The Wildcats tried to mount another comeback on Saturday after McAlarney's 3-pointer gave the Irish a 68-51 lead with 5:30 remaining.

The Wildcats closed within 84-78 on Scottie Reynolds' layup with 58 seconds left but got no closer. Harangody answered with a dunk, and the Irish scored their final four points from the line.

"They are a very good offensive team," Wright said of Notre Dame. "That's a team that you dread getting behind. They are going to drive the ball, they are going to make free throws, they are going to make the right decisions. They are not going to lose their composure."

Freshman Antonio Pena scored 17 points for Villanova on 8-of-9 shooting. But the Irish held Reynolds - the Wildcats' leading scorer - to 13 on 5-of-13 shooting.

"We knew they could put up a bunch of points in a matter of minutes," McAlarney said. "They have good shooters, especially Scottie Reynolds. We just wanted to focus, guard the 3-point line, and keep him in control."