Jan. 3, 1998
Notre Dame Falls to No. 10 Connecticut
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - The refs at the Notre Dame-Connecticut game blew their whistles more than cops directing traffic in a downtown jam.
Although the tightly called game broke the flow for both teams, it couldn't break the rhythm of the 10th-ranked Huskies, who took control early by attacking inside and then went on to an 84-58 victory Saturday.
Once both teams began parading players to the foul line only nine minutes after tipoff, UConn had already taken one of Notre Dame's leading scorers out of the game and built a comfortable lead.
"Our frontcourt did exactly what we wanted them to do; take the ball to them. Attack them. See how well they can defend," Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun.
The strategy worked quickly.
Phil Hickey, Notre Dame's second-leading scorer, sat down early after two quick fouls against UConn center Jake Voskuhl, and was benched for all but six minutes in the first half.
"That was one of the main points of the scouting report," said Voskuhl, who scored 12 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. "Take them inside and make them play defense."
With Hickey out, the Huskies had an easier time containing Pat Garrity, the Irish's top scorer who also became a victim of UConn's plan to push the ball into the post.
"Sometimes that works better than a double-team," Calhoun said.
Hickey and Garrity each had three fouls in the first half, and both fouled out. Garrity was held to three field goals in the first half and finished with 15 points, seven under his average. Hickey had five points.
"With Pat and Phil out of there, it makes a major difference," Notre Dame coach John MacLeod said.
Kevin Freeman guarded Garrity for the first 10 minutes before he was hit with a loose elbow to the throat and left the game. He was having trouble breathing and was taken to a local hospital at halftime.
Pete Mobilia, a spokesman at St. Francis Medical Center, said Freeman was being treated in the emergency room. He was listed in satisfactory condition and would probably be released, he said.
"He seems to be OK right now," Mobilia said.
Calhoun said Freeman would not travel to Miami for Tuesday's game.
UConn took control against Notre Dame with a 19-3 run, which started less than five minutes after tipoff and lasted about eight minutes.
Using their pressure defense, the Huskies (13-1, 3-0 Big East) limited the Irish (7-4, 1-2) to three free throws while opening the lead to 29-11. And by the time the spurt was over, the game had turned into a free-throw shooting contest.
"We didn't turn the ball over that much," MacLeod said. "But we became unglued offensively. We couldn't mount any kind of charge."
Both teams were over the limit after nine minutes and 28 fouls were called before halftime, 15 against Notre Dame. Fifty-one fouls were called for the game.
The Huskies, with their deep bench, were able to stay out of serious foul trouble, and began rotating their reserves well before they had built a 45-26 halftime lead, in between the whistles.
"It's impossible to get into a flow with a lot of trips to the foul line. But we still got spurts," Calhoun said.