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UConn topples No. 17 Notre Dame in South Bend
South Bend, IN (Sports Network) - Shabazz Napier totaled 19 points, five rebounds and four assists, as Connecticut put an end to Notre Dame's 12-game win streak by beating the 17th-ranked Fighting Irish, 65-58, at Purcell Pavilion.
Tyler Olander recorded a career-high 16 points and seven boards for the Huskies (12-3, 2-1 Big East), winners in six of their last seven outings. Ryan Boatright added 14 points and five assists for Connecticut, which shot 57.7 percent in the second half.
"It's definitely very rewarding. Things weren't really working out for me at the beginning of the season," Olander admitted. "I stuck with it and kept working hard and got into the gym. It feels good to finally have hard work paying off."
Eric Atkins scored 18 points for the Irish (14-2, 2-1), who hadn't lost this season since a 79-70 overtime decision to Saint Joseph's on Nov. 16. Jack Cooley contributed 14 points and nine boards as the Catholic institution's 17-game home winning streak also came to a halt.
UConn was the last school to beat Notre Dame at home, winning 67-53 on Jan. 14, 2012.
Connecticut moved ahead for good when Napier hit a jumper with 9:03 to play which put it up 48-46, and Olander followed with a bucket for a four-point margin.
Napier hit again for a 58-52 game with 3:51 showing, but less than a minute later a trey from Atkins pulled Notre Dame within 58-56. Atkins then waved his way through the lane and scored with 1:13 to play for a 58-58 deadlock.
However, the Huskies were true from the free-throw line down the stretch, as Boatwright made four in a row. Deandre Daniels followed with a bucket after Olander missed the front end of a 1-and-1 to put the visitors up by six.
Jerian Grant failed on two attempts from beyond the arc, and Daniels hit a free throw in between to account for the final margin.
"We played with a little bit of the weight of the world on our shoulders," Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey said. "That took its toll on us a little bit. I loved how we fought, and it wasn't all going great for us but we were trying to figure out how to steal it."
Notre Dame jumped out to a 9-4 lead within the first four minutes, then upped its advantage to 19-13 on a Cameron Biedscheid triple. A jumper from Cooley from his rebound of a Scott Martin miss increased the edge to 26-18, but the rest of the half belonged to the Huskies.
UConn used an 11-3 run from there to draw even on the second of consecutive Napier treys, but Cooley's bucket sent the Irish to the break with a 31-29 edge.
"What a great game. Guys played hard. Three or four times we could have given in and they faced adversity like true champions," noted Huskies head coach Kevin Ollie. "They played together tonight. I can't overuse that word; I can't overemphasize it, but they stayed together. The game management with our guards was perfect. They kept everybody encouraged; they kept everybody in the game."
UConn has won 18 of the 28 all-time meetings, but Notre Dame has taken four of the last six matchups ... The schools combined for just 16 turnovers, nine to the Irish ... Daniels and Cooley each posted a game best nine rebounds ... Connecticut hosts Louisville on Monday, while Notre Dame heads to St. John's on Tuesday.
01/12 19:40:28 ET
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