Jan. 28, 2006
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) -- The smallest player on the court came up big for Villanova in the final seconds.
When Randy Foye drove to the basket in the closing seconds to try to give sixth-ranked Villanova the lead over Notre Dame, 6-foot-1 Kyle Lowry went to the boards looking for the rebound. The guard jumped among the Irish big men, got his right hand on the ball and put it back up for the winning basket with 1.7 seconds left to give the Wildcats a 72-70 victory Saturday night.
"Everybody just went to the glass and I happened to be in the right spot," Lowry said.
It was just his second basket of the game, but Villanova coach Jay Wright said Lowry has a knack for getting big offensive rebounds.
"In our system we let him go to the offensive glass because he's so good," Wright said.
Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said it was frustrating, but he knows that's a strength of Lowry.
"He does that pretty dang good," he said. "For the most part we kept him out of there. But we didn't keep him out of there at a key time."
It was another tough loss for the Irish (10-8, 1-6 Big East), who lost twice in double overtime - to Georgetown on Tuesday and to Pittsburgh earlier this month. They are off to their worst conference start since 1995-96, their first season in the Big East when they also started 1-6. They finished 4-14 in the Big East that season.
For Villanova (15-2, 6-1), though, it was business as usual. The Wildcats have won 10 of the 12 games against the Irish since they joined the Big East.
For a while Saturday it looked as though the Wildcats would win easily. The Wildcats used a 9-0 run early in the second half to move ahead by 13 and went ahead 59-42 when Dante Cunningham scored down low midway through the half. But Notre Dame answered with the 24-4 run, with Chris Quinn, Kyle McAlarney and Russell Carter each scoring seven points, including two free throws by McAlarney when Wright was called for a technical. Two free throws by Carter cut the lead to 61-60.
Allan Ray, who missed Villanova's win over South Florida on Tuesday because of strained hamstring, drove strong inside to give the Wildcats a 69-68 lead and was fouled by McAlarney. Ray made the free throw to give Villanova a two-point lead.
Wright said Ray, who had 23 points and 10 rebounds, wasn't sure he was playing until practice Friday night.
"That was a lot of heart," Wright said.
The Irish tied it on a basket inside by Torin Francis, but couldn't regain the lead.
Mike Nardi added 22 points for Villanova. Quinn led Notre Dame with 18 points, nine rebounds, eight assists and two blocked shots. Carter had 14 points, McAlarney 13 and Francis 11. Villanova held Colin Falls, Notre Dame's second leading scorer at 14.4 points a game, to 2 points on 0-2 shooting.
Brey said for the Irish to end their streak of disappointing losses they have to find a way to come up with a big play at the end.
"It's not going to be your turn for them to miss a tip-in to win the game," he said. "You've got to take it. That's been a learning curve for us."