Notre Dame men can't complete comeback

Associated Press
ND Insider

CORAL GABLES, Fla.-Miami ended its home conference drought and denied the opposing coach a milestone victory.

Rion Brown scored 21 points to lead Miami to a 71-64 victory over Notre Dame on Wednesday night.

The Hurricanes (13-13, 4-9 Atlantic Coast Conference) built a 15-point lead early in the second half and withstood a late Irish rally in the final minute.

The conference win was Miami's first at home this season after six previous losses.

"The main thing for me was that I didn't want to lose another home game," Brown said.

Notre Dame (14-13, 5-9) cut Miami's lead to 65-64 on Demetrius Jackson's layup with 22 seconds remaining.

Brown's two free throws with 21 seconds left put Miami ahead 67-64. Then Raphael Akpejiori added two free throws after he was fouled rebounding a Jackson miss.

"I just wanted to make them for our team so we could get the win," Brown said of his free throws. "That was the main thing on my mind."

Garrius Adams scored 14 points and Davon Reed finished with 12 points for the Hurricanes.

"I wanted to finish the game on a positive note," Miami coach Jim Larranaga said. "We made a couple of critical errors that gave them a chance to get back. And they also made a couple of terrific plays.

"We were able to get our guys to the foul line and they made their free throws."

The Irish rallied from a seven-point deficit with 57 seconds left and got to within 63-62 on consecutive 3-pointers from Pat Connaughton and Steve Vasturia.

Connaughton scored 22 points and made 6 of 7 3-pointers.

"You've got to give a lot of credit to Miami," Irish coach Mike Brey said. "They got off to such a great start and played so well. But I'm really proud of our group. As ugly as it looked sometimes, for us to come back and make a game out of it."

Brey remained at 299 career victories at the school after Wednesday's loss. Brey has a 299-155 record in his 14 seasons at Notre Dame.

Manu Lecomte's driving jumper with 57 seconds remaining put Miami ahead 63-56 but Connaughton answered with his sixth 3-pointer with 44 seconds left.

Connaughton stole Garrius Adams' pass and found Vasturia for an open 3-pointer with 36 seconds left.

"We started getting stops that we didn't do in the first half," Connaughton said. "It's that type of energy we needed at the start. It was a great comeback and hopefully we can take that effort moving forward."

The Hurricanes never trailed after a 13-0 run midway through the first half. Adams' jumper capped the surge and gave Miami a 24-10 lead.

Tom Knight's 3-pointer ended a field-goal scoring drought of 5:25 for the Irish and cut Miami's lead to 25-14. Erik Swoope's jumper with 59 seconds left gave the Hurricanes their largest lead of the first half at 38-23.

Brown's 3-pointer with 15:42 remaining in the second half extended a 12-point Miami lead at halftime to 49-34.

Miami shot 62 percent from the field in the first half.

NOTRE DAME (14-13): Eric Atkins 2-8 0-0 5, Garrich Sherman 3-9 1-2 7, Pat Connaughton 8-12 0-0 22, Zach Auguste 0-0 0-0 0, Steve Vasturia 1-6 2-4 5, V.J. Beachem 3-8 0-0 8, Austin Burgett 0-2 0-0 0, Demetrius Jackson 7-13 0-0 17, Tom Knight 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 24-60 3-6 64.

MIAMI (13-13): Raphael Akpejiori 0-2 3-4 3, Rion Brown 6-13 6-6 21, Erik Swoope 2-4 3-4 7, Donnavan Kirk 2-3 0-0 4, Garrius Adams 6-8 0-0 14, Davon Reed 3-10 4-4 12, Manu Lecomte 3-5 0-0 8, Tonye Jekiri 1-3 0-0 2. Totals 23-48 16-18 71.

Halftime — Miami 38-26. 3-Point Goals — Notre Dame 13-28 (Connaughton 6-7, Jackson 3-5, Beachem 2-6, Vasturia 1-4, Atkins 1-5, Burgett 0-1), Miami 9-17 (Brown 3-7, Lecomte 2-3, Adams 2-3, Reed 2-4). Fouled Out — None. Rebounds — Notre Dame 26 (Knight 6), Miami 36 (Brown 11). Assists — Notre Dame 17 (Jackson 5), Miami 14 (Adams, Brown 5). Total Fouls — Notre Dame 17, Miami 10. A — 5,133.

Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey saw his club struggle at Miami Wednesday night. SBT File Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN