Notre Dame 71, Purdue 59
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP)—Notre Dame coach Mike Brey met with Chris Quinn before the game against Purdue on Wednesday night and showed him a highlight film of how he played when he started games aggressively.
“I told him, ‘I need you to be aggressive right from the tap. You need to go after it right away,”’ Brey said.
Quinn got the message.
He scored the first 11 points for Notre Dame, making 5-of-7 shots while the rest of the Irish were 0-of-7. He finished with a game-high 21 points as the Irish beat the Boilermakers 71-59 to advance to the second round of the NIT.
“Luckily I was able to knock down some shots to keep our team in it in the beginning,” Quinn said. “I think they were really concentrating on Chris Thomas. I think that was a lot of their game plan. And since they were concentrating on him, I was able to get some shots.”
Purdue coach Gene Keady said his team’s fifth straight loss capped a frustrating season.
“When you start losing one- and two-point games it becomes a mental thing,” he said. “You lose confidence in yourself and you can’t let that happen. There are too many ‘what ifs,’ and those things start to be a negative reaction.”
Keady was asked whether it may have been his last game after 24 years at Purdue, but said he wasn’t going to talk about that Wednesday night.
The Boilermakers (17-14) trailed 39-30 at halftime but made 50 percent of their shots to start the second half to go on a 22-12 run, taking a 52-51 lead. Brett Buscher scored six of his 12 points during the run and David Teague scored seven of his 10.
Notre Dame (18-12), which shot 50 percent in the first half, missed its first 10 shots after halftime. But the Irish made four of five shots down the stretch and ended the game with a 20-7 run. Quinn started the spurt with a basket inside while center Tom Timmermans and Thomas made key 3-pointers.
Brey said Timmermans’ 3-pointer, which gave the Irish a 58-54 lead, was key.
“He wasn’t in a great rhythm tonight. He fumbled a couple, he got in foul trouble. To have the resiliency to flush all that and knock down a big one. That was huge,” Brey said.
With Timmermans in foul trouble, Rick Cornett played a season-high 26 minutes and finished with a career-high 16 points.
“That’s one of the reasons I don’t want to quit playing. Because he just keeps getting better,” Brey said. “I don’t want to put the balls away because I want this young man to keep blossoming.”
The Fighting Irish, winners of eight of their last 11, will play at Saint Louis in the next round. Purdue finished the season 4-8 on the road.
The Irish went 7-for-8 from the free throw line in the final 98 seconds to hold on.
It was the first game between the schools, which are separated by just 100 miles, in 38 years.
“I thought it was a super atmosphere,” Keady said. “I think it would be a great home-and-home series for Purdue and Notre Dame.”