The All American

Senior forward Luke Harangody carries the Irish to victory in Tampa.

There have been occasions over the last three seasons in which Notre Dame's Luke Harangody produced a "quiet 30 points." Yes his presence was always evident, but the senior from Schererville possesses an undeniable gift for piling up points in a workmanlike fashion.

Tuesday in Tampa was not such an occasion.

Notre Dame's All American poured in a season-high 36 points in 40 necessary minutes. He hit from downtown (4-5 from beyond the arc); he hit from the post (including a clutch late jump hook to tie the game late); he hit runners, absurd fade-aways from deep in the corner, and even produced a garden-variety bucket or two among his 13 made field goals.

And fittingly, he drained the game's deciding shot, a free throw with just over two seconds remaining that gave the visitors a 74-73 win vs. the no-quit Bulls of South Florida.

A nip-and-tuck first half (seven lead changes/seven ties, including 33-33 at the break) evolved into what appeared to be a decisive, comfortable road victory as the Irish pulled ahead by 13, 60-47, on a Carleton Scott 3-point bucket from the corner with 10:34 remaining.

But the determined Bulls embarked on a 12-0 run, and held the weary Irish regulars without a field goal for more than six game minutes before junior Tyrone Nash stopped the bleeding with an offensive board and bucket at the 4:25 mark to give Notre Dame a 67-63 lead.

As he had for the bulk of the second stanza, Bulls power guard Dominique Jones (26 points) responded, hitting a pull-up jumper in the lane; two free throws; and an authoritative slam over the next 90 seconds to tie the score at 69 with just over two minutes remaining.

After an errant jumper by senior guard Ben Hansbrough, the ensuing Jones miss was slammed home by freshman forward Toarlyn Fitzpatrick and South Florida enjoyed its first lead, 71-69, since the 8:49 mark of the first half.

Harangody responded to the deficit with his aforementioned jump hook for a 71-71 tie and the flustered Irish defense finally recorded a key stop, harassing Jones into an off-rhythm shot behind the arc. Nash secured the board, drawing a foul in the process and a trip to the charity stripe.

The (vastly improved) 60 percent foul shooter calmly buried both for a two-point edge, but the Bulls refused to go away, tying the score when senior transfer Mike Mercer followed his own miss to tie the contest at 73 with under 30 seconds remaining.

With the pre-game mantra of "finish on the road," no doubt the theme of Notre Dame's crucial final possession huddle, the Irish bled the clock and wisely turned to Harangody for the save, as Notre Dame's fifth most prolific free throw shooter in school history drew a double-team and (obvious) foul on a spin toward the bucket with two seconds remaining.

Harangody drained the first but his subsequent miss and a Bulls timeout gave the hosts one more inbound play from 94-feet away. Irish head coach Mike Brey used Carleton Scott and his 7'3" wing span to defend the pass and the resulting errant throw out of bounds secured the victory for the now 13-3 Irish.

Nash augmented Harangody's effort with 11 points and 7 rebounds while senior tri-captain Tory Jackson added 11 of his own, including a key 4-4 effort from the charity stripe late in the second half.

Note: A full report and player reviews of last night's contest will appear on IrishEyes tomorrow morning. Top Stories