Wildcats hand Irish conference loss
By BRIAN KESSLER
The road hasn't been very kind to the Notre Dame basketball team this season.
Last night's game against Villanova at the First Union Center was no exception.
The Irish (14-10, 5-5) dropped to 2-8 away from the Joyce Center after suffering a 86-69 loss to the Wildcats (13-8, 4-5).
Villanova took a 37-27 lead at the break and pushed its lead to as many as 22 in the second half. Backup point guard Jermaine Medley scored a career-high 17 points and Gary Buchanan added 16 points to help the Wildcats to their highest point total of the season. Brooks Sales finished with 11 points and 12 rebounds.
Villanova's aggressive man-to-man defense forced 26 turnovers and held Notre Dame standout Troy Murphy without a field goal in the second half.
Murphy, the nation's fourth leading scorer, finished just 5-of-15 from the field and had 14 points along with 16 rebounds. Matt Carroll led the Irish with 15 points in the second half and 17 for the game. David Graves was also 5-of-15 shooting and finished with 11 points.
The Irish made just 7-of-22 (32 percent) from 3-point land, while Villanova converted 11-of-26 (42 percent) shots from behind the arc.
Notre Dame dropped both conference games on the road trip and now finds itself back in the middle of the pack in the Big East standings.
The Irish are now 0-7 against the Wildcats since joining the conference five years ago. Villanova is the only team Notre Dame has yet to beat in conference play.
The road will not get any easier for the Irish as the season winds down.
Notre Dame hosts defending national champion Connecticut on Saturday and then plays the top three teams in the conference over the next four games. Two of those games are on the road.
Notre Dame must break out of its slump and make a run down the stretch if it has any hope of making the NCAA Tournament.
All Sports Stories for Wednesday, February 9, 2000