NCAA Tourney Hopes Bubbling Up

Notre Dame's road woes have been well-chronicled. The Irish had only one true road win going into Sunday's contest against Cincinnati. However, the Bearcats were a lowly 1-10 in the Big East and for Notre Dame to fine tune its NCAA Tournament resume, a win over Cincinnati was imperative. Some hot three-point shooting by the Irish made this a reality.

Colin Falls scored a team-high 23 points and in the process became Notre Dame's all-time leader in made three-point field goals as he propelled the Irish to a 76-64 win over the Bearcats. Notre Dame moves to 20-6 on the season and 8-5 in the Big East and host DePaul next on Tuesday. Tip-off is at 7 PM at the Joyce Center. More importantly, they are now tied for fourth place in the conference with West Virginia. Because of an earlier victory over the Mountaineers, the Irish hold the tiebreaker and if the league tournament started today, they would receive a first-round bye.

Notre Dame is in this position because of some clutch outside shooting. No one was better than Falls. The senior guard hit 5-of-8 from three-point range. A bucket from behind the arc with 7:37 remaining in the second half broke Chris Thomas's career mark for made three-pointers. Falls now has 205 in his stellar Irish career. He might be hitting his groove at just the right time. Falls has eclipsed the double-digit mark in points in nine of the past ten contests.

He wasn't the only one hot from the perimeter. As a team, Notre Dame hit 13-of-20 shots from three-point land, good for an incredible 65 percent. The Irish hit 52 percent of their attempts from the field. Despite leading scorer Russell Carter once again struggling on the road, the slack was picked up by Ryan Ayers. The sophomore forward scored a career-high 12 points in 30 minutes of action and was a perfect 4-for-4 from the field.

The tone was set early in the game. Freshman Tory Jackson nailed two quick three-pointers to boost Notre Dame. This is a surprise because Jackson has not been the best shooter from the perimeter this season. But he created the momentum early. The lead stretched out to 29-20 when Carter made his only basket of the game. The Irish shot 7-of-10 from behind the arc in the first half en route to a 37-30 halftime lead.

Cincinnati showed some fight in the second half. They closed to 44-40 on John Williamson's lay-up. But this would be the closest the Bearcats would get for the remainder of the game. Notre Dame went on a quick 5-0 run, capped by a three-pointer from Ayers, to make it 49-40 Irish. Cincinnati made one final push and had it down to 64-57 but Falls put the nail in the coffin with another made three-pointer with 2:43 to go.

Rob Kurz was not a huge presence down low because of all the scintillating outside shooting. The junior forward scored five points and grabbed seven rebounds. Freshman Luke Harangody made his presence known, scoring 11 points while pulling down a team-high eight rebounds. Notre Dame should not only feel good about winning on the road but the fact that Kurz and Carter combined for just eight points and they still won by double digits away from the Joyce Center. Top Stories