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Harangody leads Notre Dame past DePaul

Mar 2, 2008 - 9:53 PM CHICAGO (Ticker) -- Luke Harangody and Notre Dame had too much offense for DePaul.

Harangody scored 24 points and the 17th-ranked Fighting Irish raced to a big lead Sunday before holding on for a 98-91 Big East Conference victory over DePaul.

Coming off 90-85 loss at No. 18 Louisville in which they played poorly for most of the game, the Fighting Irish were in sync throughout Sunday, never trailing as they secured a first-round bye in the conference tournament.

Ryan Ayers and Luke Zeller each drilled a pair of 3-pointers in the opening 20 minutes, helping the Fighting Irish (22-6, 12-4 Big East) build a 47-31 lead cushion at the break.

Rob Kurz scored 11 of his 21 points the first half and Harangody added nine in the half, when the Irish shot 53 percent (20-of-38).

Notre Dame, which nearly reached 100 points for the second time this season, shot 57 percent (38-of-67) and made 13-of-23 attempts from 3-point range overall.

"Give credit to Notre Dame. They put a lot of pressure on us and they have guys who could shoot the basketball," DePaul coach Jerry Wainwright said. "They spread you out on the floor."

The Fighting Irish made their first five shots of the second half as the lead swelled to as many as 28 points.

However, the Blue Demons were resilient behind Dar Tucker, who scored 22 of his career-high 28 points after intermission. The freshman made 6-of-9 shots from the arc.

Tucker's 3-pointer from the right side pulled the Blue Demons within 86-79 with 3:32 remaining. But Kurz answered with a shot from the arc 28 seconds later.

"Give them a little credit. They're toughness around the basket for about ten minutes really hurt us," Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. "It was going to be an unusual game. You knew there's going to be a run and some great pressure on us. It was good for us to have to work in a situation like that."

Having emerged as the favorite to be named Player of the Year in the conference, Harangody was coming off a 40-point, 12-rebound performance against Louisville.

It looked like Harangody was going to have another monster game after he scored the Fighting Irish's first two baskets. However, he opted to allow his teammates to get more involved, giving the Irish better balance.

"I thought we did a good job on Luke (Harangody) but good teams find other guys who can make baskets," Wainwright said.

Ayers and Zeller made back-to-back 3-pointers, giving the Irish a 20-11 lead with just under 12 minutes remaining in the first half.

The Blue Demons (10-18, 5-11), who are just hoping to get into the conference tournament, used an 11-4 run in under three minutes to close to 22-20.

Kyle McAlarney sank a shot from the arc, triggering a 19-9 surge that rebuilt the Fighting Irish's lead back to double digits.

Ayers put an exclamation on the big half, hitting a 3-pointer just before the buzzer.

Falling into a tie for 12th place with Providence and St. John's for the final spot in the conference tournament, DePaul closes the regular season with road games against Cincinnati and Pittsburgh.