Kevin Hamilton scored a career-high 26 points, 11 during a 23-5 run, leading Holy Cross to a 78-73 win last night over Notre Dame in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament in South Bend, Ind.
The Fighting Irish, who trailed by 13 points early in the second half, used a 9-2 run to close to 60-59 after a pair of 3-pointers by Chris Thomas and a basket by Rick Cornett with 4:20 left.
The Crusaders answered with 5 straight points and maintained the lead down the stretch.
It was the first postseason victory for the Crusaders (25-6) since beating Southern Mississippi 56-54 in the first round of the NIT in 1981. Since then, Holy Cross went 0-6 in postseason games, although it managed to throw scares into Kentucky in the 2001 NCAA Tournament, Kansas in the 2002 NCAA Tournament, and Marquette -- an eventual Final Four team -- in the 2003 NCAAs.
The Irish (17-12), losers of five of their last six, lost an opening-round home NIT game for the first time in six tries.
The Crusaders, the Patriot League regular-season champions, played with more heart throughout, outhustling the Irish to loose balls and forcing 19 turnovers, scoring 20 points off turnovers compared with just eight for the Irish. They also outrebounded the Irish, 40-36, and outscored the Irish, 34-12, in the paint for their eighth straight road win.
Only 2,517 fans were on hand at the Joyce Center, the smallest crowd for a Notre Dame home game in recent memory.
Torey Thomas added 16 points for the Crusaders and Nate Lufkin had 11 points and seven rebounds. Chris Thomas led the Irish with 21 points, 9 assists, and 7 rebounds.
Holy Cross led most of the first half, but the Irish used a 10-2 run to take a 32-27 lead with 1:52 left. The Crusaders tied it at 32 at the break on a 3-point play by Tim Clifford and a layup at the buzzer by Hamilton.
The Crusaders opened the second half with an 18-5 run to take control.
Virginia Tech 60, Temple 50 -- The host Hokies spoiled John Chaney's return to the Temple bench, using an 8-0 run in the second half to pull away. Zabian Dowdell scored 12 of his 16 points in the second half for the Hokies (16-13), including the last 6 in the 8-point outburst. The Owls (15-14) were within 40-37 when the run started, but never got closer than 5 again.
Chaney was coaching his first game since serving a three-week suspension for sending Nehemiah Ingram in to commit hard fouls that left Saint Joseph's senior John Bryant with a broken arm in a regular-season game.
Chaney was booed when he entered the court, but he remained calm throughout, mostly just sitting on the bench.