NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Notre Dame celebrated Senior Night against St. John's, but like most good nights for the Irish over the last two years, Friday belonged to Luke Harangody.
Harangody finished with 31 points and 12 rebounds for his 46th career double-double as Notre Dame beat St. John's 74-55 in the regular season finale at the Joyce Center.
Ryan Ayers had the best night of any of the Notre Dame seniors and although Kyle McAlarney, Luke Zeller and Zach Hillesland combined for just 17 points, they all contributed."It's always good when you can send those guys out with a win," Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey. "They all contributed to getting us started."
Despite the disappointing regular season, Notre Dame could not have asked for a much better finish that it got.
"It's very satisfying," said Tory Jackson. "We played defense all 40 minutes. They hit some tough shots, some tough 3's, but still we did a good job defensively. I feel this win is great for us going into this stretch."
With Senior Night out of the way, the Irish can shift all of their focus to the Big East Tournament where they will open up as the No. 10 seed on Tuesday night in a 7 p.m. game at Madison Square Garden.
The Irish controlled Friday's game from the start.
Three-point buckets from Ayers and Zeller helped Notre Dame jump out to a 7-0 lead and the Irish had an 11-3 at the first official timeout. But a 7-2 run by the Red Storm cut the lead to 13-10 just two minutes later.
The Irish pushed their lead back to eight, 20-12, midway through the half with a McAlarney three, a coast-to-coast drive by Jackson and a Harangody jumper.
The Notre Dame advantage grew to 30-16 with 3:22 left in the half after a 10-2 run, that included seven straight points from Harangody. Harangody went on to score 11 straight Notre Dame points, but St. John's had the lead down to 10 before two free throws by Jackson in the final seconds of the half gave the Irish a 36-24 lead at the break.
Harangody finished the half with 18 points and six rebounds while Ayers had six points on a pair of three-pointers.
Evans and Burrell led the Red Storm with nine apiece, but managed just six other first-half points from the rest of the team.
The Red Storm managed to get six offensive rebounds in the first half, but poor shooting prevented them from taking advantage. St. John's finished the half 10-31 from the floor (32.3%) and missed all 12 of their three-point attempts.
Notre Dame, on the other hand, knocked down five of its eight long-range shots and were 14-27 from the field (51.9%).
The Red Storm opened the second half with back-to-back three pointers to cut the lead down to single-digits.
Ayers brought the Irish back with a pair of trifectas, including one that turned into a four-point play and gave Notre Dame a 45-32 lead with 16:03 remaining. The Irish maintained that double-digit advantage the rest of the way and stretched the margin to 18 on a McAlarney three-pointer with just under seven minutes to play.
Harangody laughed off an intentional foul by the Red Storm's Evans on a breakaway that could have resulted in an injury and calmly sank a pair of free throws that boosted the Irish lead to 65-45 with under six remaining.
Hillesland brought the Joyce Center crowd to its feet when he fell down in the corner, but maintained his dribble before getting up and putting in a missed three-pointer from McAlarney. Harangody put the finishing touches on the win with a wide open dunk that gave the Irish a 72-51 lead inside of two minutes.
The Irish shot an even 50% from the field (29-58) while holding St. John's to 29% (20-69). Most damaging for the Red Storm was their 13% three-point percentage (3-23).