Fighting Irish use 13 three-pointers to beat Illinois and advance to Sweet 16

By Gus Bode

Fighting Irish use 13 three-pointers to beat Illinois and advance to Sweet 16

INDIANAPOLIS – Notre Dame, the No. 5 seed in the West bracket, put on a clinic shooting three pointers in the first half hitting 11 shots and continued its hot streak in the second half to knock off No. 4 seed Illinois and advance to the Sweet 16 in Anaheim, Calif., against No. 1 Arizona.

The Fighting Irish started the game on an 8-0 run and never relinquished the lead winning 68-60 to advance in the NCAA tournament.

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Dan Miller, who had played in a Final Four when he was with Maryland, led the way for the Fighting Irish by tying his career-high with 23 points and knocking in all five of his three point attempts in the first half.

For the game, Notre Dame shot 54 percent from beyond the arch while Illinois shot just 29 percent from three-point land and just 35 percent from the field.

Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey said shooting the long ball was the team’s plan from the get-go and said it is their preferred method of scoring.

“We always look to shoot that ball,” Brey said. “We’ll take some bad ones, but that’s part of our offense.”

Illinois senior Brian Cook had nice numbers, 19 points and 16 rebounds, despite the fact he hit just 6-of-23 shots for the game. The only other Fighting Illini player in double digits was Dee Brown who chipped in 12 on 5-of-14 shooting.

Notre Dame point guard and Indianapolis native Chris Thomas said the key to his team’s dominant performance was the fact few people thought they could defeat Illinois.

“We play better with out backs against the wall and when people are doubting us,” Thomas said.

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Marquette needs overtime to defeat Missouri and advance to Sweet 16

INDIANAPOLIS – A combined 64 points from Rickey Paulding and Arthur Johnson was not enough for Midwest bracket No. 6 seed Missouri as No. 3 Marquette defeated the Tigers 101-92 in overtime to advance to the Sweet 16 against No. 2 Pittsburgh in Minneapolis.

Paulding hit a career-high nine three pointers en route to also scoring his career high for points. Marquette was led offensively by Travis Diener who scored 26 points and Dwayne Wade who chipped in 24 points.

The Tigers made a valiant comeback to tie the game and had a chance to win before Paulding’s shot fell short as time expired.

The situation was similar to Mizzou’s first-round victory over No. 11 seeded SIU where Paulding drew a foul in the closing seconds and hit one-of-two free throws to win the game only this time he couldn’t draw a foul or hit the shot.

Wade credited good defense with the miss, but said it would not have shocked him if Paulding had made the shot.

“If he would have hit it, it would just be March Madness,” Wade said. “What could you do?”

In the overtime, it was all Marquette as they outscored the Tigers 21-12 led by freshman Steve Novak who hit three three-pointers to ice the game for the Golden Eagles. Marquette did not miss a shot in overtime as it was a perfect 6-of-6 from the field and made all six of its free throws.

Diener, who during one span scored 16 of Marquette’s 20 points, said it all just came down to his team playing better down the stretch than Mizzou did.

“In the end we just made more plays than they did,” Diener said.

Reporter Jens Deju can be reached at [email protected]

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