Score: Notre Dame 69, Rutgers 61
Stars:Notre DameTom Knight 18 Pts, 9 Reb. Pat Connaughton 21 Pts, 3 Reb. Rutgers Austin Johnson 18 Pts, 6 Reb.
Story: Maybe it was the special postseason jerseys. Or maybe it was the extra day of the rest that the Irish had earned with their single bye in the conference tournament. Either way, the Irish came to play in the second round versus Rutgers.
In what will be Notre Dame's final appearance in the Big East Tournament, the Irish appear ready to make a splash after an impressive performance against the Scarlet Knights. The offense was firing on all cylinders from the opening tip, displaying a well-balanced attack as all eight Notre Dame players that stepped on the floor scored a bucket. Tom Knight gave the Irish a solid interior presence that was too much for the Rutgers big men to handle, but it was really Pat Connaughton's three-point shooting that kept the Scarlet Knights at bay.
Notre Dame took a 33-19 lead into the break, but Rutgers came out of halftime determined to fight its way back into the game. The new-found energy led to a quick 7-0 spurt that had the momentum shifting -- until Connaughton once again caught fire. Rutgers continued to battle, but every time that they got within five or six, the Irish answered with a timely three-pointer -- in fact, the Irish were 10-17 from beyond the arc on the night.
The Irish advance to take on Marquette (coming off a double-bye) in the quarterfinals. Notre Dame lost to Marquette 72-64 two weeks ago in the Bradley Center in the only meeting between the two teams this season.