Hoosiers earn eighth straight win over Irish
Posted: Thursday December 11, 2003 12:04AM; Updated: Thursday December 11, 2003 12:50AM
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) -- This time Indiana managed to break out of its scoring drought before giving up the lead.
After going without a basket from the field for more than five minutes twice in losing to Wake Forest and more than seven minutes in losing to Missouri, the Hoosiers were able to keep their drought to 4:15 against Notre Dame in beating the Irish 66-63 Wednesday night.
Sean Kline, who had a career-high 12 points, said the Hoosiers didn't panic that the game would slip away.
"You always have that in the back of our mind, but I had confidence," he said.
Bracey Wright led the Hoosiers with 19 points and Ryan Tapak, a former walk-on from Indianapolis, hit several big shots, including a 17-foot jumper that ended the basketless drought and a 3-pointer with 28 seconds left to give the Hoosiers a 66-63 lead.
"I hit the 3's. That's what I do," said Tapak, who hadn't scored yet this year, his only playing time this season five minutes against Missouri.
"It's hard to describe the emotions," he said. "More of a shock than anything else."
Indiana coach Mike Davis said he wasn't surprised.
"He's got a lot of nerve," he said.
The victory was the eighth straight win for the Hoosiers (3-3) over the Fighting Irish, who have lost three straight, including a last-second loss to Central Michigan on Saturday.
"They are devastated," coach Mike Brey said. "This has been a pretty tough stretch for us."
The Irish (2-3), who lost their third straight, had a chance to tie the game but a 3-pointer by Colin Falls with 2 seconds left hit the rim and fell short.
"We were trying to get Chris an open look, but he was guarded," Falls said.
The Hoosiers, who endured long scoreless streaks in losing to Wake Forest and Missouri, went 4:15 without a basket after A.J. Moye converted on a three-point play with 7:29 left to give Indiana a 56-47 lead.
The Hoosiers went 0-of-4 from the field and turned the ball over three times as the Irish closed to 59-56 on a pair of free throws by Colin Falls with 4:40 left. But Tapak hit a 17-foot jumper with 3:14 left to get the Hoosiers going again, moving them ahead 61-56.
The Irish cut the lead to 63-61 when Falls made a 3-pointer with 63 seconds left, but Tapak answered with a 3 with 28 seconds left.
Chris Thomas led Notre Dame with 24 points and Torin Francis added 13 points as Notre Dame was outshot 39.2 percent to 48.1 percent.
"It was a great win on the road," Davis said. "They have really been playing well since the Wake Forest game."
Kline said the victory should help the Hoosiers.
"This is a huge confidence boost for us," he said. "After the last game where we blew the lead, to get one on the road like this is huge."
Notre Dame is off to its worst start since John MacLeod's final season in 1998-99, when the Irish started the season 1-4. The Irish have lost 13 of their last 14 against Indiana.
"This is just a test of what we are about and where we are going as a team," Brey said.