SOUTH BEND - One team played like it was willing to fight and scratch and battle to get to 10 wins in league play. The other played Wednesday like it was already there. Tim Abromaitis scored a team-high 17 points to lead four players in double figures as Notre Dame made it look easy against No. 12 Pittsburgh, 68-53, at Purcell Pavilion. The Irish never trailed, led by as many as 24 points and allowed a season low for points in a Big East game. Winners for the first time since Feb. 7 after losing its last three Big East games by a combined six points, Notre Dame improved to 18-10 overall, 7-8 in the league. Pittsburgh, which had won its last five conference games and six of the last seven over Notre Dame, is 21-7, 10-5. It was Notre Dame’s first victory over a ranked team since beating then-No. 8 West Virginia on Jan. 9. Pittsburgh came into the game allowing a league low 61.4 points a game, but the Irish hit 61 with 6:11 still to play. Up eight at the break, the Irish returned with five unanswered points, highlighted by a Carleton Scott 3, to open a 40-27 lead less than 90 seconds into the second half. Scott then hit another 3 to make it 43-29 with 16:46 left. Tory Jackson delivered a 3 of his own on the wing and when Ben Hansbrough drove and finished with a reverse layup and free throw, it was a 19-point Irish advantage. Abromaitis then connected on a 3 in front of the Irish bench as the lead ballooned to 22. A Jermaine Dixon basket finally snapped a 9-0 Irish run. A first half that featured all the energy of an early-morning church service finally found some life just before the intermission horn when Jackson hit a fade-away jumper with 0.7 seconds remaining. That gave the Irish, who led from start to finish the first 20 minutes, a 35-27 lead. It was the fewest points the Irish had allowed in the first half in five games. Notre Dame jumped to a 10-point lead - 22-12 - on a two-handed dunk from Abromaitis halfway through the first half. The Irish led by as many as 11 as they shot 52.2 percent against the league’s third-best field-goal percentage defensive team. Abromaitis led all scorers in the first half with 10 points. Irish All-American Luke Harangody missed his third consecutive game with a bone bruise in his right knee, but did factor into the pre-game ceremony. Harangody was inducted into the school’s new “Ring of Honor” for his collegiate accomplishments. Harangody and Irish coach Mike Brey stood at the free-throw line on the arena’s east end as a No. 44 banner was unfurled from the rafters. Without Harangody, Brey again went deeper into his bench. Freshman Jack Cooley got the first call, but picked up two quick fouls and was replaced by fellow freshman Mike Broghammer. The two combined for seven minutes in the first half with no points and no rebounds. Scott made his second consecutive start, but had little impact early. Cooley then became a one-man hustling machine in the second half, diving on the floor for loose balls, blocking shots and battling for rebounds. Notre Dame remains in action against ranked teams with a visit Saturday to No. 11 Georgetown.
Staff writer Tom Noie: firstname.lastname@example.org (574) 235-6153