Rutgers ends skid, beats Irish 74-73

Rutgers ended a nine-game losing streak, including eight straight in the Big East, by holding on to defeat Notre Dame by one point. The Scarlet Knights last won Dec. 22, and were powered by Mike Rosario's 24 points and the 10 points, seven rebounds and six blocks from senior center Hamady Ndiaye. Irish center Luke Harangody was 8 of 26 from the field and finished with 19 points.

PISCATAWAY – Hamady Ndiaye was pointing and shouting in jubilee at the student section, Mike Rosario was squatting near center court clenching both fists and Dane Miller was looking for anyone to do a running body jump against.

And that was with 30 seconds to go, after the latest Ndiaye block, and when the outcome appeared certain.

So, imagine the elation in the postgame locker room and beyond after Rutgers ended a nine-game losing streak with a 74-73 win against Notre Dame on Saturday in front of 7,049, including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, at the Rutgers Athletic Center.

The winning margin was skewed by a Notre Dame 3-pointer at the buzzer.

"I can't even stop smiling right now,'' Scarlet Knights point guard James Beatty said, of course, with a big smile on his face. "I'm totally excited. The coaching staff told us to reward ourselves because we work so hard in practice, and finally for it to pay off feels good.''

Power forward Jonathan Mitchell expressed relief, and optimism, about the Scarlet Knights (10-11, 1-8 Big East) winning for the first time since Dec. 22 against St. Peter's.

"It was a long time coming,'' Mitchell said. "We just came out from the beginning with energy from the jump. We came out with reckless abandon, but it was in the game concept. Now you can take that sigh of relief and say, ‘All right, we can win in this league.' The hunger is there to keep going. We're not satisfied with one win in the Big East.''

Ndiaye, the 7-foot senior center, was in the middle of everything. He scored 10 points and blocked six shots, including a crucial swat of Irish (15-7, 4-5) center Luke Harangody with 33 seconds remaining and the Scarlet Knights holding a 69-67 lead.

For good measure, Ndiaye also blocked a Harangody shot with 12 seconds left. And although Harangody finished with 19 points, it took him 26 shots (he made 8) in 39 minutes to get there.

"I've been watching so much film of him, and that's what really helped me,'' Ndiaye said. "I'm naturally a defensive player, but I studied him a lot. Being aggressive is one of the main things, and not giving up any really easy shots for him.''

Rutgers guard Mike Rosario led the Scarlet Knights with 24 points, including 18 in the first half, on an efficient 8 of 15 from the field. He also had seven rebounds, and credited his inspired play to the appearance Ed "The Faa" Ford, a long-time friend to the St. Anthony of Jersey City (N.J.) program, where Rosario prepped.

"To see him at my game tonight, that gave me relief because he almost died a couple of months ago,'' Rosario said. "That gave me (the attitude) I'm bringing every bit of it tonight because I want to show him what he was missing out on.''

The well-rounded team effort also saw Mitchell (12 points), Miller (12 points) and Beatty (10 points) score in double figures, marking the first time since 2007 all five starters scored at least 10 points.

Rutgers also won the battle on the boards for the first time against a Big East opponent this season. Led by Miller's 10 rebounds, the Scarlet Knights held a 46-37 rebounding advantage.

"I think we played our most complete game for 40 minutes since we started the Big East schedule,'' Rutgers coach Fred Hill said. "I'm just really happy they got rewarded for their mental toughness and working hard in practice.''

But ending a nearly six-week losing streak didn't come easy.

Rutgers took a 65-57 lead on Beatty's jumper with 4:36 to play, but the Irish followed with a quick pair of 3-pointers.

A Miller tip-in gave the Scarlet Knights a 69-65 lead, and Ndiaye helped protect it, first with his block of Harangody, then by keeping alive a missed Beatty free throw so Rutgers could control the ball, and finally another block on Harangody.

"You can't say enough about (Ndiaye's) effort,'' Hill said. "His blocks down the stretch were phenomenal, and really, at that point, it won the game for us.''

Scarlet Report Top Stories