Irish regain confidence with win
By BRIAN KESSLER
After a two game losing streak, it would be easy for the Notre Dame basketball team to question its confidence heading into Saturday's Big East showdown with Pittsburgh. For freshman Jere Macura, however, it may have been a harmless game of horse that was hurting his confidence.
"I joke with him because before the past few games I'd have a horse competition with him and I've been beating him," first-year head coach Matt Doherty said. "We didn't play [Friday], so maybe that's the key. I've been hurting his confidence."
Whatever it was that was holding Notre Dame (12-7, 3-2) back, Macura and the Irish responded Saturday with a 81-66 victory over the Panthers (8-8, 0-5) in front of 10,030 fans at the Joyce Center.
"It's nice to win again against a team that I think is a very good basketball team," Doherty said. "I was very concerned. After two losses you want to come home and play well for yourselves, for your team and for the crowd."
Macura came off the bench to hit four three-pointers and finished with 12 points, while Troy Murphy scored a game high 21 to lead the Irish.
"I felt very good off the bench and in warm-ups," Macura said. "I thought this was going to be my day."
"He's a great shooter. He hasn't played as well over the past few weeks," Doherty added. "So hopefully this will get him going and get his confidence back."
Playing at home certainly helped Notre Dame's confidence shooting the ball. The Irish shot 62 percent from the field and connected on a school record 14 three-pointers.
"Every team has been having a field day with us lately," Pitt forward Ricardo Greer said. "Today they were red hot and it killed us. We tried to go to the zone to prevent Troy Murphy from scoring. We knew Graves and Carroll could shoot but were more worried about Murphy. The others that shot well all year just shot well today too."
The Irish also got some extra help from their bench, which combined for 29 points and 12 rebounds.
"Some guys weren't as sharp as they've been so I thought it was important to get some guys in there," Doherty said. "Jere played very well in David [Graves'] absence and Mike Monserez gave me a comfortable feeling while he was on the court."
Martin Ingelsby also had a strong showing with 11 points and five assists in 24 minutes.
Notre Dame committed 22 turnovers and attempted 20 fewer shots, but out-rebounded Pittsburgh 32-24. Pittsburgh, however, shot just 42 percent from the field compared to Notre Dame's 62 percent.
Jarrett Lockhart and Greer each scored 20 points for the Panthers. Greer also had eight offensive rebounds and seven steals. Chris Seabrooks added 17 points in the losing effort.
The Irish return to action Tuesday when they host Miami.
All Sports Stories for Monday, January 24, 2000