The Real Deal?

The Notre Dame men's basketball team had feasted on opponents such as Winston-Salem State and Lafayette so far this season. It was a big reason the Irish were 5-1 heading into Sunday night's contest with No. 19 Maryland. For Notre Dame, it was time to make a statement on the road against a quality team. They did just that.

The Irish turned a three-point halftime deficit and proceeded to score 52 second half points en route to a 81-74 upset win over the Terrapins. Notre Dame shot just 43 percent for the contest but used a balanced offensive attack to spring the surprise. Four players scored in double figures, led by point guard Kyle McAlarney. The sophomore from Staten Island, NY poured in 18 points, including four baskets from three-point land. Notre Dame now comes back home to face part two of a difficult stretch of games. No. 7 Alabama travels north to South Bend to challenge the Irish at the Joyce Center. Tip-off is scheduled for 9 p.m. on Thursday and ESPN will have the national television coverage.

After a back-and-forth first half, Maryland jumped out to its largest lead of the game at 42-34. This is when the Notre Dame team came alive. The Irish outscored the Terrapins by 15 points for the remainder of the game. The killer: a 25-7 run that saw a seven-point deficit turn into a 62-51 lead. In that stretch, McAlarney scored nine points as he reached a season-high on Sunday night. Previous to this contest, the sophomore had only recorded a double digit scoring performance once in the year.

Notre Dame played strong with the lead, never allowing Maryland to come any closer than six points after taking the 11-point advantage. Free throws were a big part of the game. The Irish connected on 22-of-30 shots from the free throw line, including several down the stretch to seal the deal.

Notre Dame got contributions from a variety of players. Rob Kurz scored 16 points while Colin Falls chipped in 14, including a 9-for-10 performance from the free throw line. Russell Carter shot just 5-of-13 but added 13 points. Zach Hillesland filled the stat sheet up nicely, scoring eight points but more importantly grabbing a team-high nine rebounds. Maryland did win the battle on the boards, 36-33. But hustle and effort from players like Hillesland made the difference a slight one.

How impressive was this win? First, it was in Washington, D.C., a few miles away from the campus of Maryland. Also, the Terrapins (8-1) had beat Illinois and Michigan State this season. Notre Dame added a much needed quality win on the road that they can point back to in March if they're a bubble team for the NCAA Tournament.

NOTRE DAME 81

McAlarney 6-11, 2-2 18; Kurz 5-8, 4-4 16; Falls 2-9, 9-10 14; Carter 5-13, 2-4 13; Hillesland 3-7, 2-4 8; Jackson 2-3, 1-2 5; Harangody 1-3, 2-4 4; Zeller 1-3, 0-0 3; Ayres 0-1, 0-0 0; Totals: 25-58, 22-30 81.

MARYLAND 74

Strawberry 6-11, 2-4 17; Ibekwe 5-7, 3-6 13; Vasquez 4-15, 3-4 13; Gist 3-8, 5-6 11; Osby 3-7, 0-2 6; Hayes 2-3, 0-0 5; Brown 1-2, 3-4 5; Jones 0-5, 2-2 2; Bowers 1-1, 0-0 2; Totals: 25-59, 18-28 74.


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