West Virginia 74, Notre Dame 62


By John Antonik for MSNsportsNET.com
March 11, 2009

West Virginia 74, Notre Dame 62
big east tournament - second round
madison square garden
new york, n.y.
Summary
 
1
2
F
Notre Dame 18 44 62
West Virginia 36 38 74
Stat Comparison
 
FG Made-Att 22-58 23-62
FG Percentage 37.2% 37.4%
3P Made-Att 9-22 11-21
3P Percentage 40.1% 52.8%
FT Made-Att 9-13 17-23
FT Percentage 69.3% 73.7%
Rebounds 32 50
Turnovers 7 11
Top WVU Players
Top Scorer
Top Rebounder
Alex Ruoff
25 Points
Devin Ebanks
18 Rebounds

Alex Ruoff wouldn’t mind playing Notre Dame all of the time. Ruoff scored 24 points against the Irish last month, and he followed that up with 25 points Wednesday night to lead West Virginia to a 74-62 Big East Tournament win in New York City.

Da’Sean Butler scored 20 and freshman Truck Bryant added 17 points and four assists to help the Mountaineers advance to the quarterfinals where they will face second-ranked Pitt at 7 pm.

“I thought we did a pretty good job defensively,” said West Virginia coach Bob Huggins. “I think the whole tone of the thing was we were very aggressive in the first half.”

Overall, West Virginia (22-10) didn’t shoot particularly well against the Irish, but the Mountaineers were 11 of 21 from 3 for 52.3 percent. WVU also got after Notre Dame on the glass, out-rebounding the Irish, 52-32. Devin Ebanks was the primary reason, pulling down a career-high 18 boards.

“(Devin) is so long. I don’t think people realize how long his arms are and he just gets those rebounds,” said Ruoff. “Eighteen rebounds are just unbelievable. What a great performance.”

West Virginia led wire to wire and built leads of 17-2, 23-6 and then 26-6 after a Bryant 3 with 7:12 remaining in the first half. The Mountaineers once more led by 20, 34-14, after another Bryant 3 with 3:23 to go.

At halftime the Mountaineers led 36-18. The Irish’s 18 first-half points were the fewest in any half during Mike Brey’s Notre Dame coaching tenure.

Notre Dame’s 12-3 run at the beginning of the second half cut its deficit to nine.

“Alex threw the first three out of bounds to start the second half and I told him I was really proud of him for waiting four or five possessions before throwing the next one out of bounds,” Huggins joked. “But he makes a great cut and gets a three-point play when they start to make the game really interesting.”

West Virginia eventually answered with a 15-6 run to put the game away.

“Notre Dame is a 3-point shooting team so they can get into the game at any time no matter how much they are down,” Bryant said.

The Mountaineers were able to overcome poor shooting nights from Butler, Ebanks and freshman Kevin Jones, the three combining to shoot just 10 of 27.

Ruoff (6 of 13) and Bryant (6 of 9) managed to make up the difference.

“It felt good to be home in front of my friends and family and to get this win,” said Bryant. “Everything started with our defense. Our defense made our offense and that’s how we finished the game.”

Ruoff’s four 3-pointers gives him 257 for his career, passing Kevin Pittsnogle’s school record of 253 made from 2003-06.

“I wasn’t thinking about the record, I was just happy to get the shot to go down,” Ruoff said of finally breaking Pittsnogle’s 3-point record. “Now that’s over with and I can just play.”

Luke Harangody scored 27 points (23 in the second half) and Kyle McAlarney added 17 for the Irish, which falls to 19-14.

“We had fresh legs in the first half and we were making it hard for him to catch the ball,” said Ruoff. “In the second half we got a little winded and he did a good job of posting us out farther and then backing us down to where he wanted to shoot from. That got our guys confused about whether to front him or not. Credit him for keeping at it.”

West Virginia lost its two prior meetings against Pitt this year, falling by 12 in Morgantown and 11 in Pittsburgh.

Briefly:

  • West Virginia is now 11-6 in its last 17 games played at Madison Square Garden. Bob Huggins is 3-1 in Big East Tournaments and 34-11 overall in conference tournament play.

  • Huggins won his 638th career game giving him sole possession of 25th place in the NCAA Division I all-time coaching victories.

  • West Virginia’s 20 offensive rebounds Wednesday night against Notre Dame was the 17th time this year the Mountaineers have collected 15 or more offensive boards in a game. West Virginia has now grabbed 490 offensive rebounds to average 15.3 offensive boards per game, including 59 in the last three games.

    That is truly a remarkable statistic considering how poor of a rebounding team Huggins inherited from John Beilein two years ago.

  • West Virginia’s Big East Tournament quarterfinal opponent Pittsburgh won both games against the Mountaineers earlier this year and the Panthers have won six out of the last seven against WVU dating back to a 68-57 Big East Tournament quarterfinal victory in 2006.

    “We’ve just got to man-up,” said Ruoff. “They are a physical team. They got into a lot of foul trouble up at their place and that kind of opened the game up at their place. We’ve just got to match their physical play.”

  • Butler and Ruoff passed Ricky Robinson (1,373) on WVU's career scoring chart for 17th and 18th place respectively. Butler now shows 1,392 points while Ruoff now has 1,384.



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