DePaul's Wilson Chandler slammed home a dunk with 18 seconds left off a Colin Falls turnover and also blocked a last second shot by the Irish's Rob Kurz to preserve a thrilling 67-66 victory for the Blue Demons. The loss sends Notre Dame to 18-6 on the year and 6-5 in the Big East, which is now good for seventh in the conference. The Irish fall to 1-5 this season in true road games and have lost back-to-back games against teams with under .500 records in league play. Good thing for Notre Dame, three of the final five contests will be in South Bend.
After going on a 8-0 run to turn a 54-49 deficit into a 57-54 lead, Notre Dame appeared in control of the game down the stretch. It was 63-61 Irish at the 2:57 mark and Notre Dame had control of the ball. But consecutive misses by Russell Carter and Tory Jackson let DePaul tie the game up on Marcus Heard's dunk.
Which Irish player would shoot the ball? Carter? Falls? Oddly, it was Jackson as the shot clock was running down. The freshman was shooting 14 percent from three-point range when the ball was passed out to him. Jackson was wide open from behind the arc and nailed the jumper for a 66-63 Notre Dame lead with two minutes to go.
Heard's lay-up cut the deficit to 66-65 and brought it down to the crazy final 30 seconds. DePaul fouled Jackson but it was only the Blue Demons' sixth team foul. On the ensuing inbound pass with 27 ticks left, Jackson lofted a pass behind the half court line to Falls. The senior guard tried to dribble around the DePaul defender but Draelon Burns went for the steal and knocked the ball away. Burns ran down the loose ball and found Chandler streaking down the court wide open. He dunked it home to give the Blue Demons a 67-66 advantage. Chandler was a monster on Thursday, amassing 25 points and 14 rebounds.
Notre Dame has not been good on end-of-the-game possessions. The list was too long last season and this year, Butler and St. John's spring to mind. Thursday was no different. Jackson penetrated and was bodied up. He threw it desperately out to Luke Zeller, who was 0-for-3 in the game prior to the possession. The sophomore forward missed an off-balance three-pointer but Rob Kurz corralled the rebound a few feet from the hoop. He went up for the winning shot but was blocked by Chandler as the game ended. There was definite contact on the play but at that point of the contest on the road, Notre Dame would be hard pressed to draw a foul.
Falls led all Irish scorers with 20 points. The senior, despite the late turnover, shot 7-of-10 from the field. Kurz, not at 100 percent because of an ankle injury, added 15 points and eight rebounds. Carter shot poorly for the second straight contest, connecting on just 4-of-13 shots. In the past two games, the senior guard is 9-of-28 from the floor.