When two Coleman free throws gave RU a 10-3 lead at the seventeen and a half mark, Gary Waters went to full court pressure and the Knights jumped out to a 12-6 advantage. The RAC was rocking until Notre Dame's Chris Thomas quieted the RAC crowd with a three pointer to pull Notre Dame within three at the 15 minute mark.
But the Scarlet had only begun.
Ricky Shields was slapping away balls on defense and rebounding missed shots by the Irish. Herve Lamizana and Sean Axani added crucial points on a run that was capped off by two Jerome Coleman "threes" to give RU a 26-13 lead with ten and a half to go in the half.
Every thing seemed to be dropping for the Knights and with good reason. ND had trouble covering Herve inside because they couldn't double up on him. If they tried that, it left Jerome Coleman with man on man coverage beyond the perimeter and Jerome was laser guided today. To make matters worse for the Irish, Calvin Wooten hit two timely "threes" to extend the RU lead to 38-19. Rutgers was simply hitting on all cylinders and Notre Dame couldn't spread their defense far enough to cope with all the scoring threats. By the six minute mark the Scarlet held a 24 point lead over the 10th ranked "Fighting Irish."
But Mike Brey's crew wasn't going down without a fight. Late in the first half the the "Golden Domers" finally responded. An eleven point run by Notre Dame got the score down to 43-30 at the two minute mark and a jumper by Matt Carroll cut the RU lead to 11 with less than a minute to play. The only scoring after that was a foul shot by Kareem Wright to give the Knights a 12 point lead at half time.
At the midway mark Jerome Coleman led all scorers with 17 points, Calvin Wooten had 11. The Knights were hitting two-thirds of their shots from three point range.
Herve Lamizana opened the second half with a two pointer to extend the RU lead to 14. Gary Waters decided that with the hot three point shooting that the Knights were showing, that ND would opt to protect the perimeter and allow Rutgers to go inside. He was right. On the first five possessions of the second half Waters had the Knights take it inside each time and Rutgers converted on four of those attempts. The Irish matched score for score though and at the sixteen and a half minute mark it was 55-41 in favor of Rutgers.
Would Notre Dame come back and would the Knights fade yet again?
That was the specter that Rutgers faced all season at this point in the game, but this time instead of fading the Knights re-ignited.
Power scoring inside by Kareem Wright and "back to back" three pointers by Jerome Coleman propelled the Knights to a 22 point lead at the 12 minute mark.
After that burst the Irish did come back, at least partly. Outside scoring by Notre Dame's Matt Carroll and Chris Thomas cut the Rutgers lead to 16 at the eight minute mark and the Knights braced for the stretch run.
However, time was running out for the Irish. Notre Dame, desperate to get back in the game, went to full court pressure and traps. While the Knights had little trouble breaking the press, the fire had gone out of their outside game. Now lacking "lights out" shooting, RU relied on tough defense and good ball movement to keep the lead at 14 points at the five minute mark.
Rutgers and the Irish traded scores and with the clock winding down, the Knights started to take the air out of the ball. Twice while the possession clock was running down Calvin Wooten drove for scores to preserve the 14 point lead for Rutgers and after that it was over.
The Irish never challenged in the game.
Final Score Rutgers 91, Notre Dame 77.
Jerome Coleman led all scorers with 27 points. Calvin Wooten had 18 points. Kareem Wright had 11 and Herve Lamizana had 10. The Knights hit .548 from the field and .579 from three point range while holding the Irish to .386 from the floor.
PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) Jerome Coleman broke out of a scoring slump with 27 points and Rutgers beat No. 9 Notre Dame 95-82 Saturday, its first win against a Top 10 team in over 20 years.
Calvin Wooten added 18 points for Rutgers (12-14, 4-10 Big East), which snapped a four-game losing streak.
CBS.SportsLine.com - Rutgers 95, No. 9 Notre Dame 82
Calvin Wooten came through in the clutch
(AP Photo/Mike Derer)
Talk about it on the Bulletin Boards:
Mike Fasano: MikeFasano@comcast.net
Mike and the Big Dog's LLC