Irish continue struggling ways with 80-72 loss to Marquette Saturday

Published 10:09 pm Monday, February 27, 2006

By By ADAM PAYNE / Niles Daily Star
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - What appears to be a very bright future for the Golden Eagles of Marquette made itself readily apparent on Saturday against Mike Brey's struggling Irish team. While Notre Dame kept it close for much of the game, Marquette had a better handle on things from the onset and ended the game with a 80-72 win.
Brey's group may be psyching themselves out as a subconscious reaction to their nightmare of a season, but they simply lack the poise necessary to maintain any success in the Big East. There are certainly notable bright spots for the Irish, such as Kyle McAlarney's 14 point, 8 assist performance Saturday night,but Marquette's future is downright blinding.
Two freshman, 6' 3" guard Jerel McNeal from Chicago, and 5' 11" guard Dominic James from Richmond, Ind. and runner-up to Luke Zeller for Mr. Basketball a year ago, give Marquette the backcourt energy necessary to allow such players as senior forward and team scoring leader Scott Novak to be prolific.
And Novak did just that on Saturday, particularly in the second half where he scored 14 of his game-leading 21 points.
In the first half of play, the Irish hung close with the Eagles, and even flirted with the lead from time to time, taking a three-point deficit into the locker room at half. Junior guard Russell Carter provided a spark in the first half, but it helped Notre Dame to only stay in the game rather than take command of it.
As the second half began, the game seemed to be a seesaw affair, and it appeared it may come down to a final possession, typical for the year, but Marquette was simply too efficient of a machine to allow even that to happen. They did not become flustered when the Irish hit big shots, and usually responded with big shots of their own.
A notable statistic from the game is Colin Falls' lack of production. He ended with only 5 points on 1 for 9 shooting including 1 for 7 from behind the arc, typically his wheelhouse. Falls also only had 1 assist, and while McAlarney's 8 gives were a positive, Chris Quinn's miniscule 2 assists were a far greater negative.
Quinn came into the game with 145 assists for the year, which is an average of more than 6 per game. His team leading 18.7 points per game before Saturday also took a hit as he ended with just 12.
Statistically and otherwise, Saturday was a bad day for the Irish who ended up losing to Marquette 80-72.
The team, that has only 4 wins in 2006, must now rely on help from others to even make it to the Big East tournament. From their current vantage point, it would seem that losing in the first round of the N.I.T. would be a major accomplishment.