Man on Fire

Jeremy Hazell stifled a valiant effort by the short-handed Irish last night as Notre Dame dropped a heartbreaker at the Prudential Center, 90-87.

If the now 6-6 Irish fall short of their goal to join March's Field of 64, they'll likely look back to three crucial moments in Thursday night's 90-87 loss at Seton Hall as opportunities lost:

  1. Leading 44-39 with 39 seconds remaining, Seton Hall scored an improbable five points thanks to the offensive brilliance of Jeremy Hazell and an ill-timed foul by Tyrone Nash for a surprising 49-39 halftime edge.

  2. At the 8:42 mark of the second half, Notre Dame senior star Luke Harangody suffered what appeared to be a hyperextended knee with the Irish trailing 73-68. The All American returned briefly before being withheld for the duration.

  3. And ultimately, two missed, wide open three-point attempts in the closing seconds; the first by the nation's No. 2 three-point marksman Tim Abromaitis and the second, a buzzer beater from the left wing by classmate Carleton Scott that ended the underdog Irish hopes in a 90-87 loss in Newark.

Seton Hall, just 4-7 in conference play but now 11-3 overall at the Prudential Center this season boasts home wins over Cincinnati, Louisville, Pittsburgh, and Notre Dame. The Pirates rode junior shooting star Jeremy Hazell to their fourth Big East win of the season as the 6'5" gunner from Harlem exploded for 35 points on a 12-16 shooting performance including a ridiculous 8-11 effort from beyond the arc.

Hazell's outburst ended the Pirates three-game conference losing streak and further muddled the middle of the Big East conference as eight teams now stand within two games of the league's No. 5 spot entering the weekend.

Notre Dame tied the score midway through the second half on a Harangody three-point bucket and drew to within one-point on a Tim Abromaitis free throw with less than two minutes to play, but Hazell proved too much down the stretch, scoring five points on consecutive possessions and 11 of the Pirates final 15 points en route to The Hall's fourth consecutive win in Newark.

The Irish were led by the grit and determination of senior guard Tory Jackson who poured in a career-high 25 points in the loss. Jackson (9-12 from the field) had a chance to cut the lead to one with 26 seconds remaining but his contested driving layup came up short and the Irish were again forced to foul for possession.

A Pirates miss at the free throw line gave Notre Dame the game's final possession, but Abromaitis' potential game-tying three hit the back of the rim and Carleton Scott's open look at the buzzer was long as well and the Pirates hung on for a thrilling three-point victory.

Hazell's effort was supplemented by forward Jeff Robinson's 14 points while the point guard tandem of Jordan Theodore and Eugene Harvey both chipped in 9 points for the victors. More important, the duo harassed Jackson into an uncharacteristic six turnovers as the usually sure-handed Irish committed 14 errors as a team to tie its highest total in 12 conference games.

Jackson was aided by four double-figures scorers including Abromaitis' 18 points (12-12 from the charity stripe) and 13 apiece from Harangody and junior Tyrone Nash while Ben Hansbrough added 10.

Notre Dame (17-8, 6-6) lost despite winning the battle of the boards (29-23).

The Irish maintained their conference standing following a surprising road loss by Louisville at St. John's. Notre Dame's next game is Sunday, February 14 when the Red Storm travel to South Bend.


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