Rutgers basketball brought it’s a-game to South Bend, Ind., tonight but fell one possession short of what would have been a remarkable comeback against No. 20 Notre Dame.
In a 69-66 loss to the Fight Irish, Rutgers rallied from a 13-point deficit to have the ball with a chance to win on the final possession.
The Scarlet Knights used a full-court press to its advantage during a second-half run, highlighted by a perfectly executed trap in the final minute. Following a fast-break layup for Elijah Carter, defenders Dane Miller and Jerome Seagears forced a tie up and won possession for Rutgers with 5.7 seconds left on the clock.
That, however, was as close as Rutgers would get. On a play designed for Carter to isolate the basket, he was called for a charge and the turnover ended the comeback hopes for Rutgers.
“[Carter’s drive was] exactly what I wanted,” said Rutgers coach Mike Rice. “That's how you win games in the Big East. You put your best player in a little advantage. I loved how we played it and executed it. I disagree (with the call) but those things happen.”
The loss drops the Scarlet Knights to 3-3 in Big East play.
“When you catch so close to the baseline, you almost deserve for something bad to happen,” said Notre Dame coach Mike Brey on the turnover that led to Carter’s charge. “We panicked a little bit and caught close to the baseline. We're fortunate we defended and go t onto the next play and didn't hang our head.”
Rutgers trailed the Irish 50-37 midway through the second half before Carter and forward Kadeem Jack heated up to lead a 12-2 run.
Carter returned to form with a team-high 20 points on 9-of-15 shooting and senior Austin Johnson continues to impress in the paint as a bench player. Loggins six points and six rebounds, Johnson was a key player in limiting Notre Dame to four offensive rebounds.
Irish star forward Jack Cooley, however, proved too much for an inexperienced Rutgers post. His double-double helped the Irish control the pace of the game and hang on to its second-half lead by the skin of their teeth.
“We're different,” Rice said. “We don't have that young man in the paint so we have to play a little different. I thought our zone was very effective getting out to shooters. It took away their ball screen offense. Tom Knight hits back-to-back high post turnaround jump shots. They didn't blink either. They found ways when we were on a roll to continue to score some points and every little play counts in the Big East.”