Too Much Harangody For Pirates

SOUTH BEND - It was the start and the finish for Luke Harangody, that was the difference for the Notre Dame basketball team on Saturday afternoon.

Harangody, the reigning Big East Player of the year, went for 30 points and 16 rebounds in the 13th-ranked Irish's 88-79 victory over Seton Hall at the Joyce Center. It was the 45th-straight home win for the program, and 20th in league play. That latter ties Pittsburgh for the conference record.

It was a National Player of the Year type performance for Harangody, although Seton Hall coach Bobby Gonzalez didn't want to anoint the 6-foot-8 junior just that for the second year in a row.

Last season, Harangody killed Seton Hall with a 22-point, 12-rebound performance, and following the game, Gonzalez said that the Irish star was possibly the Player of the Year. Instead this year, Gonzalez did predict Harangody could go for a double-double against anybody.

For basically the first 13 minutes and the last 10 minutes of this particular game, it would've been safe for anyone to say there wasn't a better player in America than Harangody.

Harangody scored 12 first half points, including a dunk with 12:35 left to give the Irish a 21-13 lead. From there, he preceded to miss his next nine shots, including three lay-ups, before carrying his team down the stretch.

"It finally got to the point where I said enough of this, now I have to start to take over here a little bit," Harangody explained. He finished 8-of-23 from the floor and 14-of-16 from the charity stripe in a game that had 14 lead changes. "I hadn't been doing anything but letting my guys down all day, and I needed to do something."

A Harangody tip-in goal with 9:49 left tied the back-and-forth contest at 63. From that point on, Harangody had 17 points as Notre Dame (12-3, 3-1) finally pulled away from a quick and athletic Seton Hall (9-7, 0-4) team.

"I hope you understand what we're seeing here," Irish coach Mike Brey said. "This is a really special guy. A very, very special guy. Certainly, his motor kept us believing that whole second half."

When Harangody was struggling, it was Tory Jackson and Luke Zeller that kept the Irish afloat. Jackson finished with 18 points and eight assists, and Zeller scored all nine of his points after halftime. Kyle McAlarney also had 18 points including a dagger 3-pointer with just under three minutes to put Notre Dame up 82-73.

Seton Hall's Jeremy Hazell came into the game as the league's second leading scorer behind Harangody (24.1 ppg) at 23.1 points per game, but did not start because of a violation of team rules. He subbed in after the first TV timeout and was held to 12 points on a poor 3 -of-12 shooting. Eugene Harvey picked up the slack with 21 points, and Robert Mitchell added 15 points. Jordan Theodore, a freshman guard, was outstanding with 11 points.

"I was concerned about Seton Hall with their speed and their quickness off the dribble," Brey explained. "It gave us trouble most of the game. I have a lot of respect for our group, finding the will to win, when you're up against the wall in a league game. For us to scratch it out, 3-1 in the league, we'll take that. We have to get refreshed real quick because we have Louisville coming at us real quick.

Leading 42-41 at the half, Mitchell scored Seton Hall's first seven points after the break, but he was matched by the Irish's Jackson and Zeller.

Jackson scored 10 points in the second half, and brought the Joyce Center crowd to its feet on a couple occasions with drives to the basket or forcing a key turnover.

"I didn't want to go out there and take over like Michael Jordan or nobody, but I just felt like I needed to do something to spark the team," Jackson said.

Zeller did too.

After taking just one shot in the game's first 20 minutes, he was 3-of-4 in the second half including two treys and a free throw to end with nine points.

"I just got into a good rhythm and just got out there and got in good spots, and was able to knock down shots."

Notre Dame ended the game shooting 26-of-62 (41.9 percent). The Pirates on the other hand shot 50 percent, but were out-rebounded 43-30.

As Seton Hall was shooting at a high percentage, keeping the Irish in the game was the free throw line. Notre Dame ended the game an amazing 28-of-32 from the charity stripe.

"I never want to jinx it, but I hope we're in a good rhythm there," Brey said. "That's huge. That's the first thing I mentioned to the guys."

Led by Harvey's 15 first-half points, Seton Hall led 42-41 after the game's first 20 minutes. The Pirates shot 18-of-33 (54.5 percent) from the floor, as Mitchell, Theodore and Walters all chipped in with six points apiece.

For the Irish at the break, Harangody had 12 points, and Jackson and McAlarney had eight apiece. Jackson also had five assists, as Notre Dame shot 13-of-29 (44.8 percent).

Without Hazell in the starting lineup, the Pirates still started strong. They hit five of their first six shots, two apiece by Harvey and Theodore to take an early 12-10 lead. Harangody kept the Irish close with eight quick points.

Four minutes into the game, Notre Dame finally woke up.

Ryan Ayers hit a three at the top of the key to tie the game at 13, and Zach Hillesland put the Irish up one with a free throw. Jackson drained a jumper, and Kyle McAlarney hit his first shot of the day, a three in the corner to put the Irish up 19-13. Harangody capped the 11-0 run with a dunk in transition, forcing Seton Hall to call a timeout at the 12:34 mark, trailing 21-13.

Led by two easy buckets by Walters, Seton Hall quickly answered with an 8-0 run to tie the game at 21. The team's basically traded baskets from that point. A Harvey score gave the Pirates a 27-25 lead.

A pair of free throws by Harangody tied the game at 27, and an Ayers three put Notre Dame back in front. Jackson drained two from the charity stripe, Mitchell answered on the other end, and then an acrobatic tip-in by Jackson gave the Irish a 34-29. Seton Hall got the deficit down to one, before a McAlarney three gave Notre Dame a 37-33 advantage.

Seton Hall closed the half with a 9-4 run to grab the lead at intermission. Harvey had a pair of baskets including a tough fade away at the buzzer. Theodore scored the other five points.

"I can see why these guys have won 44 in a row at home and 19 straight Big East games," Gonzalez said. "You almost have to play perfect basketball to beat them.

"I'm really proud of our kids and I thought they played exceptional today. We had a great game plan. The first half we executed well. We thought we were beating them off the dribble. We just did a heck of a job. We kept Harangody down about as best as we could. He's a remarkable player, just remarkable. He gets his hands on everything. I thought he was the difference in the second half and the game." Top Stories