Notre Dame jumped out to an early 11 point first half lead over top ranked, defending national champion Villanova Saturday afternoon. The Irish, however, were unable to hold on to their lead in the second half before finally falling to the #1 team in the country 74-66.
The Irish lead throughout much of the game but fell behind in the final 10 minutes and were unable to battle back. Jason Hart and the Wildcats proved to be just too much as Hart almost single handily doomed with the Irish with 37 points. No other Villanova player reach double figures.
A sluggish second half on the offensive side of the ball is what really did in Notre Dame on Saturday. After scoring 41 points in the first half, the Irish managed just 25 over the final 20 minutes.
Matt Farrell and Steve Vasturia paced Notre Dame with 18 a piece with Bonzie Colson chipping in 11 points and 8 rebounds. V.J. Beachem on the other hand had a cold shooting afternoon with just 4 points on 2 of 11 shooting including missing all five three point attempts.
The loss is the first of the year for the Irish who came into the contest at 9-0 and ranked 23rd after cracking the Top 25 for the first time this season earlier this week. Even with the loss, the close contest with the #1 team in the country could end up helping them in the rankings this week.
Notre Dame will have a full week off to regroup from their first loss of the season. The Irish will be in action against next Saturday against #17 ranked Purdue in the Crossroads Classic. Tip off is set for 2:00 from Indianapolis and the game will be televised on ESPN2.