Notre Dame's NCAA Tournament hopes, no matter how slim they may be, are still alive.
After a disappointing regular season, the Irish are hoping to earn a bid via the Big East Conference Tournament. Notre Dame will need a serious run through New York to accomplish that goal and that journey began Tuesday night with a 61-50 win over No. 15 Rutgers (11-21).
The Irish survived some late runs by Rutgers in the second half before pulling away.
Luke Harangody struggled all night and finished with just seven points on 3 of 17 from the field.
Hamady N'Diaye led the Scarlet Knights with 14 points and Mike Rosario added 12.
McAlarney led Notre Dame in the first half with eight points, while Harangody had seven.
The Irish led 28-19 after 20 minutes. Rutgers cut the deficit to one with a 13-5 run to start the second half, but Notre Dame responded with a 12-0 spurt to push the lead to 13.
Rutgers got the margin back down to six with seven minutes to play and even after the Irish stretched it back to 11, the Scarlet Knights trimmed it to five with a minute to go. But the Irish made their free throws down the stretch to seal the win.
While it is unclear how many wins the Irish will need in the conference tournament to secure a NCAA bid, it will probably take at least a couple more.
But the Irish cannot afford to look past its second round opponent, No. 7 West Virginia (21-10). Notre Dame's second round game will be at 7 p.m. and will be aired on ESPN.
Check back later tonight for a full game story including quotes.