Pittsburgh gets revenge at home against Notre Dame
By KATHLEEN O'BRIEN
Assistant Sports Editor
Notre Dame's NCAA tourney hopes took a hit Sunday as the men's basketball team stumbled with a 72-66 loss to Big East foe Pittsburgh on the road.
The blue and gold's defeat came at the hands of a team it had beaten only two weeks before at home — a team hovering near the bottom of the conference standings.
But the Panthers (10-9, 2-6) showed up demanding more respect than the average basement-dweller. Despite their dismal record in the league, the Panthers have played all but one of their first eight Big East games against teams in the top half of the conference.
The Irish led through much of the first half, and went ahead by as many as 11 early in the second period.
But the Panthers weren't about to let this win slip away from them like it did in narrow losses to undefeated Syracuse and Miami — the second place Big East team. A 3-pointer by senior guard Jarrett Lockhart narrowed the gap to five.
Then Irish sophomore Troy Murphy scored four straight points to put the Irish ahead 43-34 with 16:20 to play in the game.
The Panthers came storming back, scoring 15 straight points to turn the tables on the Irish.
Three different Pittsburgh guards hit closely guarded 3-pointers during the Pitt spurt. Lockhart, junior guard Ricardo Greer and senior guard Jeremy Holmes all hammered in treys in the run to put a nail through Notre Dame's hopes of victory.
Although the Irish fought back, the Panthers retained their lead the rest of the game. The closest the Irish could get was within one at 54-53, after buckets by Murphy and freshman guard Mike Monserez.
But Pitt scored the next five points to take a six-point lead with 5:48 to go. Freshman guard Brandin Knight knocked down a 3-pointer, and sophomore forward Chris Seabrooks added a lay-up in giving the Panthers the six-point advantage.
Notre Dame worked its way back into the game in the late going with three shots from behind the arc.
Senior point guard Jimmy Dillon was nearly the team's savior for the second time in one week. He hit a 3-pointer to narrow the gap to two against Pittsburgh in the final minute. Dillon had a steal, followed by a break-away slam dunk in the crucial moments against St. John's.
Seabrooks and Lockhart hit two free throws apiece in the final 28 seconds, securing the win for Pittsburgh.
Four Panthers scored in double digits — Greer and Lockhart with 17, Seabrooks with 16, and Holmes with 10. Meanwhile, only Murphy and sophomore David Graves tallied 10 or more points for the Irish.
The Panthers dominated the boards, outrebounding the Irish 43-30.
Freshman Donatas Zavackas was a key addition to the Panthers' game, after missing the first match against the Irish. Zavackas, despite only scoring two points and four rebounds, managed to rein Murphy in, holding him to 20 points. Of Notre Dame's nine losses, Murphy has been kept below his scoring average in all but one.
All Sports Stories for Monday, February 7, 2000