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Irish End 'Nova Losing Streak
By Alan Tieuli
You know, theres a guy in this building who wears #3 who
makes bad shots, Brey said, referring to the 76ers Allen Iverson.
Chris Thomas makes bad
Often at the most critical times.
Thomas banked, straight-on three-pointer with remaining tied the
game and then Notre Dame simply used its guile and experience down the stretch to defeat
Villanova, 82-78, before 14,121 evenly-divided supporters in the City of
With the victory, Notre Dame is off to a 2-0 start in the Big East
for the first time since 2000 and increased its Big East-best road mark to 15-11 over the
past three-plus seasons. The Irish are 8-3
overall, have won six in a row, and head next to undefeated
And Notre Dame has an agenda.
Were the streak breakers, said senior guard Torrian Jones.
(Wednesday) we broke Drew Schifinos double-figure scoring streak (48 games).
Today we snapped our winless streak (0-8) against Villanova. Monday, its
It was leadership from Thomas, Jones and a surprising Tom Timmermans that put this one in the left-hand
column. Villanova led by seven with five
minutes to play and six (72-66) with remaining. But
the 8-5 Wildcats who start four sophomores and a freshman wilted in the
critical final possessions.
Timmermans got the rally going by hitting a foul-line jumper with to play. The sturdy Dutchman had seven points and four rebounds in 19 minutes off the bench. He also set a punishing screen that freed Thomas for his game-tying three.
"(Brey) and I watched tape (Friday night)," said Thomas. "Some of the shots I take are from a little deep. Good players have a tendency to take bad shots and good players have a tendency to make bad shots."
After the three, Villanova rushed a shot on its end and then
compounded the problem by inexplicably fouling Chris Quinn 30 feet from the basket. I
think, admitted Wildcat coach Jay Wright,
we just lost our poise.
Quinn made both free throws and then Timmermans collared a tough
defensive rebound on the other end. That led
to a dunk by Torin Francis (11 points in 20
foul-plagued minutes) off a Quinn feed with 59 seconds left.
The dunk culminated a 12-2 Irish run and Villanova never got closer
than three again. It was a victory worth
woofing about, but the Domers were rather low-key. After
all, they are used to this.
Our identity is to be good on the road, said Brey. Were proud of that.
And Brey is proud of his junior point guard, Thomas, who scored a
game-high 26 points, 21 in the second-half. Jones
finished with his second consecutive double-double, 10 points and 11 rebounds. Quinn, a sophomore who plays like a senior, had 13
points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals.
Were older than them, and it showed, said Brey.
Quinn and Thomas are two fearless guys, Tom Timmermans gave us good minutes. Our seniors played like seniors and it was enough.
We knew they were a young team that would give us our chances,
The Irish also received a stellar first-half effort from freshman
Villanova is a fun team to watch.
Allan Ray and Randy Foye who each scored 18 points
are dangerous off the dribble, can shoot it, and have crowd-pleasing flair. Freshman point guard Mike Nardi (15 points) outplayed Thomas for a half
and is cut from the same mold as Gerry McNamara and
Jason Fraser (17 rebounds) and Curtis Sumpter (14 points, nine rebounds) are a
They are young, they have been injured, and they have good days
ahead for them, predicted Brey.
And the coach considers this victory a validation point for his team.
For us to be credible, Brey admitted, we got to
beat Villanova. We hadnt done that. In fact, the Irish had been blasted (85-58, 86-69)
in their last two visits here.
IRISHEYES GAME NOTES: Matt Carroll was cut by the Portland
Trailblazers on Wednesday, one day before his guaranteed full-year rookie salary would
have kicked in. If it bothered him, it wasnt
showing today. The class act took a red-eye
Friday night to sit in courtside seats behind the Notre Dame bench. His presence was an inspiration to Thomas. Were
real close, and I followed him in the NBA all this season, Thomas said. He was
a great teammate.
Schifinos suspension by West Virginia for conduct
detrimental to the team apparently was related to his verbal outburst following his use in
the loss to Notre Dame on Wednesday
..Notre Dame had not beaten Villanova since an
81-68 victory on January 21, 1984. That Irish
squad went 21-12 and lost in the NIT final to
(Alan Tieuli is the Managing Editor of IrishEyes Magazine and can be reached at email@example.com. For subsciption information on IrishEyes Magazine please visit www.irisheyes.com or call 888-501-5752)