for this game

Harangody helps ensure Notre Dame stays undefeated at home

Feb 22, 2008 - 5:03 AM SOUTH BEND, Indiana (Ticker) -- It took a second-half surge, but No. 21 Notre Dame escaped with its home winning streak intact.

Luke Harangody finished with 23 points and 12 rebounds as the Fighting Irish dominated the second half en route to an 82-70 victory over Pittsburgh in a Big East Conference battle on Thursday.

Tory Jackson added 16 points and 13 rebounds and Kyle McAlarney chipped in 15 points for Notre Dame (20-5, 10-3 Big East), which pushed its home winning streak to 35 games - the third longest streak in the nation - by shooting 50 percent (16-of-32) after the break.

"It's a heck of a win for us because there were a lot of times where we got a little frustrated, and you may have thought, 'Well, not tonight,'" Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. "But we kept finding a way, and I think Tory Jackson's will, at key times, makes his teammates believe."

Trailing by 11 at 51-40 after Sam Young's jumper with 13:53 left in the game, the Irish went on a 21-10 run to knot the score at 61-61 on McAlarney's second straight 3-pointer with 5:57 left in the game.

"They were big for Notre Dame," Pittsburgh guard Keith Benjamin said of McAlarney. "They were two deep, contested 3s."

"I got a few good looks in the first half, but after that, they were on me," McAlarney said. "When we focus, when we're down 11, down 20, we can come back no matter what the score is."

On the ensuing possession, Harangody knocked the ball away and raced ahead for a breakaway dunk to give Notre Dame the lead, 63-61, with 5:31 to play.

Pittsburgh (19-7, 7-6) leveled the contest with a pair of free throws, but Jackson responded with a 3-pointer to give the Irish the lead for good at 66-63 with 4:37 remaining.

"We did not make some plays, and on the offensive end, they made some tough plays," Panthers coach Jamie Dixon said. "(Tory) Jackson hitting the 3 was big. To their credit, they did a good job with those shots."

Harangody and McAlarney scored four points apiece down the stretch as Notre Dame capped off a 52-point second half.

"I thought we got better defensively in the second half, and controlled the paint for at least the last 10 minutes," Brey said. "They're very big and very physical, and they put it on us for a while. But we found a way to do it, made free throws, and believed in our ability, and it certainly helped us tonight."

The Irish surged out in front midway through the first half, using a 7-2 run capped by Jonathan Peoples' 3-pointer to take a 22-15 lead with 8:40 to play before the break. But Notre Dame went cold for the rest of the first, and the Panthers took advantage.

Benjamin started and ended Pittsburgh's 20-8 run to end the half with 3-pointers, and the team shot 8-of-13 from the floor in the final 8:19 of the half to take a 35-30 lead into the locker room.

Gilbert Brown scored six points during the run, and Levance Fields - coming off the bench for the second straight game after returning from a broken left foot - finished the half with six points.

Harangody was the only player to score for the Irish in the final 8 1/2 minutes, totaling eight points. Notre Dame finished the half just 12-of-34 (35 percent) from the floor, including 2-of-12 from the arc.

Young finished with 20 points and eight rebounds to lead the Panthers, who have now lost two straight and five of their last nine to fall into a tie for seventh place in the Big East.

"Notre Dame played well," Dixon said. "They made the plays at the end; they made the 3s to really pull away. We did not make free throws and we didn't make the plays.

"We played well for 30 minutes and put ourselves in a position to win it down the stretch, but they made shots and we didn't. This is a tough place to play. We have had good success here, but not tonight. They made the plays at the end."