March 9, 2006 // Basketball

Irish Fall to Georgetown in Big East Tourney

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New York, NY (UHND.com) — Notre Dame ended its first round Big East Tournament game with Georgetown the same way it ended too many games this year — losing a close game they could have won. After starting the game on an 11-0 run, the Irish let Georgetown control the tempo in the 2nd half and ended up coming just short of advancing to the 2nd round with a 67-63 loss.

The Irish hit 11 three points including six from Collin Falls who led the Irish with 21 points, but it wasn’t enough to overtake the 23rd ranked Hoyas Wednesday afternoon.

Heading into the 2nd half the Irish held a slim three point lead, but Georgetown came storming out of the gates and took control of the game. Notre Dame, sporting the now popular black jerseys, closed the gap many times and fought a back and forth battle, but they could not take or hold a lead. Every time they’d close the gap, Georgetown, led by Brandon Bowman’s game high 25 points, would rattle off a couple baskets to regain control.

Still, the Irish were as close as one point down, 64-63, with under a minute to go after Torin Francis completed a three point play but Bowman responded with a drive to the basket from which Notre Dame would not recover despite some tough defense from Francis.

Chris Quinn was shut out from three point range, missing all three of his attempts and finished with just eight points but did dish out eight assists. Picking up the scoring slack for the Irish were Russell Carter who continues to improve with 12 points and sophomore Rob Kurz who notched a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds.

Notre Dame needed to get to at least the championship game of the Big East Tourney to have any shot at getting an at large bid to the Big Dance this year marking the third straight year the Irish won’t be in the Field of 64. Notre Dame has also now lost in the first round of the Big East Tournament in back to back seasons.

The loss ends a dreadful season of conference play for the Irish in which they lost 11 conference games by an average of 3.5 points a game including two loses in overtime and a 3rd in double overtime. Of the 11 loses, only three were by more than 5 points (DePaul, Marquette, and Syracuse) and the other 8 were by three of less.

Coming close doesn’t mean much to the NCAA Selection committee though nor does it mean much to the players or coaching staff for this year’s squad.

Georgetown will move on to face Marquette in the second round while the Irish will wait for an invite from the NIT where Chris Quinn, Torin Francis, and Rick Cornett will end their Notre Dame careers.

The good news for the Irish is that this team returns a lot of young talent. Players like Russell Carter and Rob Kurz came on strong down the stretch. Losing Francis and Cornett will hurt but freshman Luke Zeller and Zach Hillesland both were highly touted recruits who will be pressed into larger roles next year. The Irish will also add Luke Harangody, a highly ranked center from Indiana.

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