NCAA Hoops: No. 9 Irish overcome Brooks' 52 points

NCAA Hoops: No. 9 Irish overcome Brooks' 52 points
February 24, 2011, 3:00 am
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Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2011
Posted 8:58 p.m. Updated 10:07 p.m.

Associated Press

PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Ben Hansbrough scored a career-high 32 points and Tim Abromaitis had a season-high 28 to lead No. 9 Notre Dame to a 94-93 win over struggling Providence on Wednesday night despite a Big East-record 52 points by Marshon Brooks.

The Irish (22-5, 11-4 Big East) are off to their best start ever in the 11 seasons under coach Mike Brey. Notre Dame, in second place in the conference, has won eight of nine.

Brooks' 52 points was the most ever scored against Notre Dame, which hadn't allowed a 40-point scorer since Danny Manning in 1987. Brooks, only the third player in Providence history to score 40 points or more twice in a season, surpassed the previous high of 45 by Michigan State's Julius McCoy on Dec. 21, 1955.

Providence (14-14, 3-12) has lost six of seven after beating then-No. 19 Louisville and No. 8 Villanova four days apart in late January.

The Irish, who led by 10 at halftime, pushed it to 55-39 on Abromaitis' fourth 3-pointer 2 12 minutes into the second half. They maintained a double-digit advantage until the Friars closed to 72-64 on Duke Mondy's 3 from the left corner with 9:22 to play.

Notre Dame, which lost 72-58 at West Virginia on Saturday, shot 58.2 percent from the floor, including 9 of 21 on 3-point attempts. The Irish won their eighth straight against the Friars.

Providence cut it to 74-67 on Brooks' baseline jumper, but Hansbrough's three-point play made it 79-68 with just over 7 minutes to go.

Brooks hit a spinning jumper from the right wing, making it 83-79 with just under 3 minutes left, but the Irish hit just enough from the line to hang.

Brooks' two free throws cut it to 88-86, but Hansbrough hit two on the other end with 29 seconds to play. He made two more with 13 seconds left.

Notre Dame, which took control in the opening minutes, led 48-38 at halftime.

It started out as expected with Providence, which entered next to last in the conference in points allowed but second in scoring, setting the tone for a wide open, mostly defensive-free initial 20 minutes.

After the Friars had the initial two baskets of the game, the Irish - mainly behind Abromaitis' quick start - made things look easy offensively. Notre Dame went on a 14-2 run over the next 3:21 with Abromaitis scoring 12 points.

Before he went to the bench for a rest midway into the first half, he scored 15 of Notre Dame's first 18 points.

The Irish had three easy cuts to the basket for layups, hit four wide-open 3s and added a put-back en route to an 8 of 11 start from the field. They pushed their lead to 31-18 with 10:12 still to play in the opening half before the Friars started to play a bit tighter defensively.

Box Score

St. John's tops DePaul in first ranked game in 10 years

NEW YORK - Dwight Hardy continued his scoring streak with 21 points and No. 23 St. John's, playing as a ranked team for the first time in more than 10 years, dominated DePaul throughout in a 76-51 victory Wednesday night.

Hardy, who came in averaging 26.0 points on 50 percent shooting, including 53.3 from 3-point range, didn't have to come up with any late-game heroics like he did Saturday in a 60-59 win over No. 4 Pittsburgh.

The Red Storm (18-9, 10-5 Big East) controlled the game inside, in transition and on the backboards to win for the eighth time in nine games, a streak that got them in The Associated Press Top 25 for the first time since November 2000.

Freshman Cleveland Melvin had 16 points for the Blue Demons (7-20, 1-14), who have lost 14 of 15. This was DePaul's 29th consecutive loss to a ranked team and eighth this season.

St. John's used a 12-0 run - with Hardy and D.J. Kennedy each getting five points - to take a 33-14 lead with 3:08 left in the half.

Brandon Young hit a 30-footer at the buzzer to pull the Blue Demons to 37-22.

St. John's started the second half on a 9-2 run for a 46-24 lead with 16:59 to play and it only got worse from there for DePaul, which trailed by as many as 30 points - 61-31 on a jumper by Hardy with 10:39 to play.

Paris Horne added 12 points and Kennedy had 11 points and 10 rebounds for St. John's, which has won four straight over the Blue Demons, including a 90-82 triple-overtime game last season when Kennedy had 32 points, nine rebounds and seven assists.

Hardy's tightrope walk along the baseline and his underhanded scoop with 1.2 seconds to play gave the Red Storm the win over Pittsburgh, their fifth over a ranked team this season. All five of the teams - Georgetown, Notre Dame, Duke, Connecticut and Pitt - were ranked 13th or higher in the Top 25 when St. John's faced them.

The Red Storm's 2-3 zone had DePaul frustrated about getting the ball inside and forced them to take long perimeter shots. The Blue Demons finished 17 of 55 from the field (30.9 percent).

St. John's, meanwhile, got the ball inside often and effectively, outscoring DePaul 42-18 in the paint. That also helped the Red Storm to 54.4 percent shooting (31 of 57) and they finished with a 43-29 rebound advantage.

It was the 500th game played at Carnesecca Arena, the 50-year-old on-campus gym. St. John's record is now 420-80 in the building named for its Hall of Fame coach, who retired in 1992 and was in the sellout crowd of 5,602.

Box Score

Central Michigan beats Northern Illinois 64-58

DeKALB, Ill. - Jalin Thomas scored 29 points and Central Michigan defeated Northern Illinois 64-58 Wednesday night.

Thomas scored 20 points in the first half, keeping the Chippewas (9-18, 6-7 Mid-American) in the game. Northern Illinois led 34-33 at the break, but it could have been larger as the Huskies shot 65 percent before halftime. They cooled off substantially in the second half, making only 30 percent from the field to finish at 47 percent.

Finis Craddock's 3-pointer gave Northern Illinois (7-9, 3-10) a 58-56 lead with 4:36 to play, but the Huskies didn't score again. Thomas' lay-up tied it with 3:17 to go, then Derek Jackson made two free throws with 1:39 remaining. Trey Zeigler made two free throws, and William McClure and Jackson one each in the final minute.

Zeigler scored 19 points for the Chippewas. Antone Christian led NIU with 11 points; Nate Rucker and Xavier Silas each scored 10.

Box Score

Missouri State overwhelms Southern Illinois 76-58

CARBONDALE, Ill. - Will Creekmore finished with a career-high 26 points and had 11 rebounds as Missouri State defeated Southern Illinois 76-58 Wednesday night to keep pace with Wichita State atop the Missouri Valley standings.

Nafis Ricks added 12 points and Adam Leonard scored 11 for the Bears (22-7, 14-3), who set a school record for conference wins and conference road wins (seven) in a season.

Mamadou Seck led the Salukis (12-17, 5-12) with 17 points and 13 rebounds, and Justin Bocot had 13 points.

After Kyle Weems hit a 3-pointer to give Missouri State an early 3-2 lead, the Bears never trailed again. They took a 35-28 advantage into halftime and pushed their lead to 23, 65-42, with a 9-0 run late in the second half.

Missouri State will host Wichita State, which beat Creighton on Wednesday, in the regular season finale for both on Saturday.

Box Score
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