for this game

Connecticut breaks Notre Dame's run at home

Jan 25, 2009 - 5:00 AM SOUTH BEND, Indiana (Ticker) -- The Connecticut road show claimed another victim, a notable victim.

Jeff Adrien scored 12 points and grabbed a career-high 19 rebounds as third-ranked Connecticut used a gritty effort to claim a 69-61 victory over No. 19 Notre Dame on Saturday.

Jerome Dyson had 15 points and A.J. Price added 13 for the Huskies (18-1, 7-1 Big East), who snapped the Fighting Irish's run of 45 consecutive wins at the Joyce Center - the longest home winning streak in the nation.

"It feels good," Dyson said. "We knew that we just had to make sure that we didn't let this be a 'crowd' game. At the end, defensive stops were the key. We were giving up a lot of easy buckets during their run in the second half. We just got together and said that we had to protect the middle, and that if they were going to score, it was going to be from outside."

Connecticut, which won its seventh straight league contest - including four on the road - also prevented Notre Dame from establishing a Big East record, halting the Fighting Irish's streak of 20 consecutive home wins in league play.

"It is kind of hard to say congratulations after a night like this," Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said about the end of the streak. "I am kind of glad it is over. We are certainly proud to hold the all-time Big East record at 20 with Pittsburgh, we have been pretty consistent."

Notre Dame dropped its first home game since a loss to Marquette on February 25, 2006.

This is not the first time that the Huskies have made some noise on the road this season, going into Seattle to beat mid-major power Gonzaga in December and posting wins in three consecutive Big East road games for the first time in the 23 years under Jim Calhoun earlier this month.

"Every game we know we are going to face a different type of challenge," Connecticut center Hasheem Thabeet said of road games. "We talk to each other to make sure we are ready to play well right from the start. We were able to do that today and get a win."

The Huskies took control of the contest with a 12-2 run early in the second half. Adrien started the spurt with a three-point play and capped it with a jumper, giving his squad a 42-33 lead with 15:45 to play.

"He's been everything to our team lately," Price said of Adrien said. "He gives us senior leadership, and he's the steadiest guy I've ever played with. That really says it all. He was all over the glass tonight. At 6-7, he's just an animal and he gets every rebound."

Notre Dame (12-6, 3-4) did close within two points at 49-47 on a layup by Luke Harangody with 8:54 left, but Connecticut responded with a decisive 13-1 burst.

"I couldn't be prouder of my team because we won by staying together and playing defense," Calhoun said. "I only had to call one timeout because we weren't communicating and we were a little upset. That timeout had nothing to do with shooting, purely with staying together."

Thabeet finished with nine points while also grabbing 11 rebounds and blocking five shots and Gavin Edwards came off the bench to provide a spark, scoring eight.

"Gavin was a sensation," Calhoun said. "In a space game, that's where he's good. He was terrific tonight."

It was the "space game" that bothered the Huskies early, as they decided to settle for deep shots against the Irish's 2-3 zone. They shot just 33 percent (11-of-33) en route to holding just a 30-29 lead at the half.

That was not the case in the second half, as UConn used its strong defense to force long shots from Notre Dame and took advantage of the long rebounds to get out in transition.

The junior Edwards completed a highlight play on the break, slamming down an alley-oop from Dyson for a 49-43 lead with 10:43 remaining.

That play came during a 14-2 run for Notre Dame. However, the Irish struggled from the field throughout, shooting 33 percent (25-of-76).

"You know, I don't know," Irish forward Zach Hillesland said. "It's not like we were shooting contested shots. I can remember a ton of great looks. There's going to be nights like this. Think about this one tonight, forget about it tomorrow."

Harangody finished with 24 points and 15 rebounds for the Irish, but got little support from his teammates.

"I told Luke Harangody in line that he's as tough and good as everyone has always said he was and as Hasheem and all of us at Connecticut think he is," Calhoun said. "He is a tremendous competitor."

The junior forward went 10-of-23 from the floor, while the rest of his team combined to go 15-of-53. Notre Dame's second-leading scorer Kyle McAlarney ended up with nine points on 3-of-15 shooting - eight points below his average.

"We got great looks, but we just couldn't hit them, myself included and that's going to happen," Harangody said. "All the credit goes to Connecticut, they came in here to win. It was a crazy atmosphere, the students were great, the fans were great, but we just couldn't hit the shots."