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McAlarney's late free throws propel Notre Dame to win

Feb 17, 2008 - 10:18 PM PISCATAWAY, New Jersey (Ticker) -- Kyle McAlarney scored 16 points and hit two late free throws to help No. 18 Notre Dame secure a 71-68 victory over Rutgers in Big East Conference action Sunday.

Tory Jackson added 17 points to pace the Fighting Irish (19-5, 9-3 Big East), who have won five of their last six games.

The Scarlet Knights (10-17, 2-12) fouled McAlarney with nine seconds remaining, and he calmly sank both shots to reclaim Notre Dame's three-point lead at 71-68.

Rutgers was able to get a long 3-point attempt by Corey Chandler as time expired. But the shot fell short, allowing the Irish to escape with the win.

"We got better defensively at that time and then we made really smart plays down the stretch," Irish coach Mike Brey said. "We made free throws, were good with the ball and we defended that last 3-point shot really well. We switched out on it."

Rob Kurz finished with 11 points and 14 rebounds and Luke Harangody added 10 points and eight boards for Notre Dame.

Notre Dame held a 42-34 advantage at intermission, but Rutgers used eight points from Anthony Farmer and some solid defense to start a 16-6 run over the first 6:39 of the second half to take its first lead since early in the first half. The Irish hit only two of their first 10 shots during the Rutgers' opening run.

After Mike Coburn hit a 3-pointer to increase the Scarlet Knights' lead to 55-50 with 11:25 remaining, Rutgers suddenly went cold.

The Scarlet Knights managed to make just one shot over the next 6:09 while Notre Dame went on a 15-2 run, capped by McAlarney's fourth and final 3-pointer of the game to leave the Irish with a 65-57 lead.

Rutgers again trimmed the deficit to 67-66 with 1:14 left in the game, but Jackson maintained control of the ball on the subsequent position, fighting off two defenders for a loose ball at the top of the key and finding Kurz in the right corner for a wide-open 15-footer to increase the lead to 69-66.

"I just don't think there is a guard playing better than Tory Jackson right now," Brey said. "We've hit our stride the last month because of how this young man has played. Basically today, it was his will that said, 'I'm going to find a way to get my team a win.'"

Farmer hit two free throws to narrow the deficit to 69-68, leading to a foul on the other end with 13 seconds remaining.

Harangody - who finished just 2-for-11 from the field - missed the front end of the one-and-one. But Rutgers could not capitalize, fumbling the rebound out of bounds.

"We did a phenomenal job on (Harangody) today," Rutgers coach Fred Hill said. "I mean you can't do a better job. Not only did he only get 10 points, but he worked for every point he got. If you watch him play he always gets easy baskets, that's why he can get 30. He worked for the 10 he got."

McAlarney was fouled on the subsequent inbounds play and hit both free throws to account for the final margin.

Farmer had 16 points and J.R. Inman added 14 for the Scarlet Knights, who lost their sixth straight contest.

"We've had a two- or three-minute stretch every game where we shot ourselves in the foot," Hill said. "That didn't happen today. ... We kept coming back. We kept making big plays and kept playing hard. Mentally, that was a big step for those guys. We gave ourselves a chance to win the game."