Things didn't start out so smoothly for the home team on either end of the floor. They surrendered three early triples and fell behind 23-11 just eight minutes into the game. The did little to cut into lead until late in the half when Daniel Horton capped off a 13-5 run with a three-pointer to cut the Irish lead to four, (37-33), with 2:23 to go. Notre Dame quickly responded, though, scoring four unanswered points down the stretch to head into the break up 41-33.
When the Wolverines emerged from the halftime locker room they found their offensive groove again. Lester Abram scored four points to key an 8-2 run that put the home team within two points, 43-41. But as was the case in the first half, Notre Dame was there with an answer, quickly pushing the lead back to six after reeling off a run of their own. That's when Horton strapped his team on his back.
After being relatively quiet for the first four-and-a half minutes of the second half, Horton became the aggressor. "We just had to keep defending them," he said. "They had been giving everybody a lot of problems all year with the way they can shoot the ball and score. We just knew we had to keep fighting and defending." The senior floor general led by example, scoring or assisting on 15 of the Wolverines next 20 points. When the dust settled Michigan was within one point, (62-61) with just under a minute to go in the period.
The two teams exchanged buckets in the remaining moments of regulation, leaving the Wolverines still down a point (68-67) with thirty seconds left. Michigan headman Tommy Amaker called a timeout to set up what he thought would be a game-winning play, and when his team re-took the court it worked to perfection.
Daniel Horton came from the left wing across the baseline before catching a Graham Brown screen that freed him up on the right wing for a wide open three-pointer. The Cedar Hill, Texas native nailed the shot to put Michigan up two (70-68) with thirteen seconds to go. However, that lead proved to be short lived as Irish guard Chris Quinn raced down the floor and beat the entire Michigan defense from the left baseline with a terrific hesitation dribble for an open lay-up to force overtime.
The first overtime ended in a stalemate after Chris Hunter's three point attempt at the buzzer clanged off of the rim to leave the score knotted at 77. The second overtime practically mirrored the first, with neither team going up by more the three throughout. The difference, however, was in the ending. The Wolverines were up one (84-83) with the ball and 27 seconds left on the clock when Hunter was inexplicably called for his fifth foul on a supposed illegal screen. On Notre Dame's ensuing possession Daniel Horton fouled Chris Quinn on a shot attempt from the baseline, giving the Irish guard the chance to put his team in the lead. However, Quinn converted only one of his two attempts, tying the score at 84 with 16.3 seconds.
When the Wolverines got the ball back they put the ball in the hands of their best player. The play was designed for Daniel Horton to create an opportunity, and while things didn't go exactly as planned, he did just that.
Horton got the ball at the top of the key and drove to his left into the lane where the Irish defense collapsed on him. With seconds ticking away, Michigan's senior leader maintained his composure and found Dion Harris drifting open behind the three point arc on the right wing. There were only a few ticks left when the former Detroit Redford standout got the ball. With no hesitation he launched a high arcing fade-away that seemed to hang in the air for an eternity. When it finally came down it clanged in the rim and through the net, giving Michigan the 87-84 victory.
"Daniel [Horton] has bailed us out of so many situations like that," Harris said. "Obviously they knew we were going to him for the last shot and they collapsed on him. Just like last game when we played them down there, they double teamed him and left me open. He hit me again tonight and I knocked it down."
"I just tried to lead the team to a win, whether it was me taking the shot or Dion taking the shot," added Horton. "I remember against Indiana, Dion caught a lot a heat because he didn't shoot the first one, but this time he shot it. I have all the confidence in world in that guy when he catches and shoots."
On the game Horton led four Wolverines in double figures with 29 points and eight assists. Meanwhile, Chris Quinn led all Irish scorers with 18 points and nine assists. For more on the game, click the following links: Boxscore, Notes, Quotes, Photos.
Next up for Michigan is yet another rematch with a regular season foe. The Maize and Blue will square off with Miami Wednesday night at Crisler Arena. The Wolverines were victorious 74-53 back on November 29th. The Hurricanes earned the right to face Michigan after knocking off #2 seed Creighton, 53-52. Tip-off is scheduled for 8pm.
Tickets will go on sale at 8:00 a.m. Tuesday (March 21) at the U-M Ticket
Department. They can also be purchased online
or over the phone by calling 1- (866) 296-MTIX (6849). Prices are $10 for Blue
reserved, $8 for Gold general admission and $5 for U-M student bleacher seats.