HARTFORD, Connecticut (Ticker) -- Charlie Villanueva and Connecticut wanted this game badly. With help from Marcus Williams, both got what they wanted.
Villanueva matched a career-high with 25 points and Williams was a rebound shy of a triple-double as No.19 Connecticut got some revenge with an 88-74 Big East Conference victory against Notre Dame.
The Fighting Irish big men outplayed the Huskies' frontcourt in a 78-74 victory in the first meeting between the schools this season on January 30.
"In our last game (against Notre Dame), they gave us the problem of outside with Chris (Thomas) and (Colin) Falls and with (Chris) Quinn, I think they have three very good players. And they really, really gave us problems inside. I think that Latimore and Torin (Francis) really dominated us inside," Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun said. Francis and Latimore combined for 31 points and 16 rebounds while Villanueva and Josh Boone had 12 points and eight rebounds.
"We decided to go right inside (tonight) - right to Charlie - and we did that. We were plus-17 in rebounding, dominated in the paint (42-24) and had 10 blocks. We did what we needed to do."
Connecticut (18-6, 10-3 Big East) shot 53 percent (34-of-64), tied a season-low with seven turnovers and outrebounded Notre Dame, 43-26.
"They played great," Notre Dame (16-8, 8-6) coach Mike Brey said. "I look at our offensive stats, where we shot 44 percent and we make 10 3-pointers and score 74 points - that's usually good enough to win most Big East games this year. They were just fabulous offensively and they really beat us up on the backboard."
Villanueva, who had six points and six rebounds in that first contest against the Fighting Irish, continued his strong play of late in this one. He ignited a 26-14 run over the final 11 1/2 minutes of the first half with a 3-pointer - his third of the season - and a three-point play.
In the second half, when the Irish closed to 53-44 on a 3-pointer by Falls, Villanueva scored eight straight points for the Huskies to push the lead back to 61-46 with 12 minutes to play. Notre Dame pulled within 61-52 on another Falls' shot from the arc before Villanueva hit a turnaround jumper in the lane, a jumper from the foul line and a dunk to push the lead back to 73-57 with seven minutes remaining.
"I wanted this game real bad," said Villanueva after acknowledging a subpar performance in the first contest between the schools. "We refused to lose - played 40 minutes.
"My teammates have faith in me (after a slow start this season), have encouraged me. The key has been fighting through it - overcoming it."
The 6-10 Villanueva, named Big East Conference Player of the Week on Monday after scoring 43 points and grabbing 23 rebounds in victories over Providence and Rutgers, was 9-of-14 in this one, with three assists and four blocks.
"Charlie was scoring great," Williams said. "He told me in the second half to get him the ball, and he did a great job of finishing tonight."
"Charlie was magnificent," Calhoun said. "He's coming into his own; feeling good about himself. We made a point to get him the ball early."
Williams wasn't bad himself.
The sophomore point guard finished with 17 points, 12 assists, including nine in the second half, and nine rebounds. After Villanueva started the burst in the first half, Williams added three driving layups and a follow shot as Connecticut took a 45-32 lead at the break.
"I just play, stay focused," Williams said about his play. "I try to get my teammates the ball and take my shots when I have them."
"He's different than most point guards you see in America because he actually plays the game some of us used to think the game should be played," Calhoun said. "He plays on the floor, it's not high flying, but those passes are pinpoint. He's made a significant difference."
Falls scored 19 points and hit 6-of-10 from the arc, Thomas scored 16 and Francis added 15 for Notre Dame, which made 10-of-22 from the arc but still suffered its worst loss of the season.
"We lost to one of the best teams in the country," Falls said. "They played very well, made some tough shots. Their big guys played well and shot well."
Denham Brown scored 18 points and Josh Boone added nine points and eight rebounds for Connecticut, which has won six of seven.
"Our team is starting to jell - a lot of chemistry," Brown said. "Bigs are playing aggressive and smart. This was one of our best games. We were solid on the glass.
"Notre Dame is a good team, but we were a really, really good basketball team tonight."