Notre Dame Derailed by Oregon

Notre Dame's hopes of moving on to Madison Square Garden for the semi-finals of the NIT were dashed by the Oregon Ducks. Oregon proved to be a physical and deep team that wore down the Irish in the end.

The Ducks' aggressive defense took its toll on the Irish shooters, especially on three-point attempts as the Irish were 8-27 for the game. The other side of the stat sheet showed Oregon knocking down 10-20 from behind the three-point line.

Coach Mike Brey felt the three-point shooting was a big factor in Oregon's win, "They really made some big three-point shots," said Brey. "The concern was guarding the three-point line, and them making ten of them was too much to absorb."

Oregon has a high-powered offense, but Brey felt they kept their scoring down, the Irish just couldn't sink the big shots of their own. "Even though you would have told me before the game that they would score 65 points as good as they are offensively, I thought that would be enough if we were better offensively. We had some pretty good looks and couldn't knock them down."

The game was played at a fast pace and with a lot of intensity. Notre Dame jumped off to a quick 9-2 lead and forced early turnovers, but Oregon quickly regained their composure and took a two-point lead at the 14:53 mark. The teams played even up over the next nine minutes, then the Ducks went on a run and gained a six-point margin with four and a half minutes remaining in the half, 21-27. Then it was Notre Dame's turn and they outscored the visitors 11-5 to close out the half with the score knotted at 32.

The Irish scoring leaders in the first half were Torrian Jones, Rick Cornett, and Colin Falls with six each. Chris Thomas was held to five points as the Ducks' defense kept him off balance. The team put up 31 shots connecting on 12 for 38.7 percent.

Oregon's Andre Joseph had ten first-half points and teammate Ian Crosswhite contributed eight. As a team, they took 24 shots and connected on 12 for an even 50 percent.

There was no let up by either team in the second half as they battled back and forth with neither team able to open up a commanding lead until Oregon put together a run which gave then a nine-point edge with ten minutes to go. Over the next seven minutes Notre Dame outscored Oregon and tied the game at 59 with just under four minutes to go. The Ducks scored six points in the last minutes while the Irish could only manage two and this enabled the Ducks to win the game by a final score of 61-64.

Chris Thomas led the Irish in scoring for the game with 18. He was followed closely by Chris Quinn with 17, Torrian Jones and Colin Falls were shut down in the second half and each ended with six points. The shooting woes continued for the Irish in the second half as they were 12-32 for 37.5 percent. For the game, they ended with a 38.1 shooting percentage.

Oregon had three players in double figures led by Andre Joseph 16, Luke Jackson 14, and Ian Crosswhite 12. As a team they finished the game with a 47.9 shooting percentage.

As to be expected, the Irish locker room was subdued following the game, yet the players being interviewed were cooperative and answered questions without hesitation.

When Chris Thomas was asked about the game and the Oregon team he said, "They played better than us and were more efficient. It doesn't feel good to be in this situation. Their guards are physical and smart. They hold and switch. The match-up zone was kind of tough to play against. They had a lot of big guys that it made it hard to play against. You have to give them a lot credit as they played really good tonight."

Chris Quinn commented on the game by saying, "They did some things on their defensive end that we haven't seen a lot of this year. They switched a lot of stuff and got us off rhythm a little bit on our offensive end. We knew they were talented and had guys come off the screens really fast and got shots off fast. They are a good team."

Tom Timmermans played his last game in an Irish uniform and, as has been the case all year, he gave his best effort. Naturally he wasn't happy with the final outcome but he gave credit to Oregon by stating, "They are a big team with some big guys," said Timmermans. "We expected some physical presence to match ours and they definitely did. They made some big plays down the stretch and got it done on defense. They shut us down as we didn't get the looks we normally get and they just played really well."

Notre Dame closes out the season at 19-13, which is respectable but shy of the expectations coming into the season. The old adage wait till next year is very fitting for Irish fans as the 2004-2005 squad holds a lot of promise due to the returning players and the development of the younger ones. Top Stories