Feb 9, 2004
Box Score |
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By TOM COYNE
AP Sports Writer
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) - Chris Thomas and Chris Quinn finally played well
together, and that was enough to beat No. 5 Connecticut.
Thomas scored 22 of his season-high 31 points in the second half and Quinn
added 17 points to lead the Irish to an 80-74 victory over the Huskies, ending
a three-game losing streak.
Thomas had been in a slump for six games before scoring 23 in a loss to No.
4 Pittsburgh on Saturday, when Quinn went 0-for-8. Against Connecticut, though,
"We've been hearing that Chris Quinn and I can't play good together on the
same night, so we figured this is our last stand," Thomas said. "We couldn't
take it anymore. We put it together and the whole team put it together."
Torrian Jones added 14 points and pulled down 12 rebounds for the Irish
(11-9, 5-5 Big East).
"Their perimeter guys dominated the basketball game," UConn coach Jim
Calhoun said. "They dominated us in every which way. That's a pretty good
indication they kicked our butts."
Thomas, who was averaging just 11 points in the six games before Pitt - four
of them losses - was 6-of-10 from 3-point range and 9-of-21 overall.
It marked the second time in less than a month that an Irish team upset a
highly ranked UConn team. On Jan. 13, the unranked Notre Dame women beat No. 4
UConn 66-51. Just as they had at that game, the Irish students flooded the
court to celebrate.
Thomas hit 7-of-13 shots in the second half to pace the Irish.
What made the victory even more surprising was that UConn (19-4, 7-2) had
won five straight, while the Irish had lost five of seven.
"Tonight was a special night, not only for myself, but the team and the
program," Thomas said. "The guys in here worked so hard and come in the
locker room after three or four straight games and just felt empty inside. This
Emeka Okafor led UConn with 24 points on 10-of-17 shooting and added nine
rebounds. Ben Gordon scored 22 for the Huskies.
"We didn't play well enough for a win," Okafor said.
Notre Dame held the Huskies to five fast-break points in the game, none in
the second half, but Calhoun thought that statistic was wrong.
"But we probably didn't have 10 points on the fast break," he said. "We
weren't running the fastbreak. We had seven points on the fast break to start
the game, then we didn't run."
Thomas and the Irish slowed the pace down by repeatedly shooting with five
seconds or less left on the shot clock in the second half.
"Chris Thomas really quarterbacked the tempo offensively," Irish coach
Mike Brey said.
The game was close throughout, with the Huskies leading by six twice and the
Irish leading 60-53 when Thomas hit a 3-pointer with 10:42 to go. The Huskies
tied the score at 69 when Okafor scored inside with 3:06 left.
But Thomas answered with a 3-pointer 18 seconds later, and the Irish never
"Chris had a tremendous game," Calhoun said. "He was big, really big. He
made big shots. When it was 69-69 he made a super big shot - one of our players
decided it was not a good time to go after him. You're not going to win
basketball games that way."
Quinn made a free throw and Tom Timmermans hit a pair of free throws with 49
seconds left to make it 75-69.