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Notre Dame takes down No. 17 Marquette 76-59

Notre Dame guard Pat Connaughton is fouled in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game with Marquette Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012, in South Bend, Ind. Notre Dame won 76-59 with Connaughton leading all scorers with 23 points. Notre Dame guard Pat Connaughton is fouled in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game with Marquette Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012, in South Bend, Ind. Notre Dame won 76-59 with Connaughton leading all scorers with 23 points. (AP Photo/Joe Raymond)
February 4, 2012
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SOUTH BEND, Ind.—Marquette coach Buzz Williams tried anything he could to contain Notre Dame. Nothing worked so he stopped the clock.

Williams resorted to taking timeouts to slow down the rally, but the short breaks weren't enough to prevent No. 15 Marquette from losing to Notre Dame 76-59 Saturday.

Williams used four timeouts over a span of 4 minutes, 27 seconds. Still the Irish lead went from 50-42 to 62-48 over that period.

"I don't know how many timeouts I called, but I was just trying to keep it in contention," Williams said. "They just continued to beat us off the bounce. They're beating us off the bounce and we're scrambling around. That's why they had 22 assists."

The loss ended a seven-game winning streak in the Big East for the Golden Eagles (19-5, 8-3).

Darius Odom-Johnson and Jae Crowder, who combine to average just under 35 points per game for Marquette, were held to just 16 points.

Johnson-Odom and Vander Blue led the Golden Eagles with 12 points each.

Davante Gardner, who normally starts for the Golden Eagles, was sidelined for the second-straight game with a knee injury.

Williams said his team missed Gardner's play, but the blame was shared all-around.

"That's not why we got beat," Williams said. "Devante wouldn't have been out there on the perimeter guarding the ball."

Notre Dame (15-8, 7-3) won its fourth-straight game.

"I thought today we took another step and kind of played like men," Brey said of a team whose top three scorers were two sophomores and a freshman. "We're very cool competitors when we had a chance to put it away. I'm thrilled to see that from this group. We played a heck of a basketball team today."

The biggest day came from freshman guard Pat Connaughton who had 23 points, 11 rebounds, three assists, two blocks and one steal. Fifteen of Connaughton's points came on 3-pointers.

"I hit one three that rolled around the rim about six times," Connaughton said. "Usually when you hit one of those, you know it's going to be a good day."

Connaughton started his fourth-straight game and has started feeling comfortable play increased minutes.

"I'm still a freshman on the stat sheet, but yeah, I think I'm feeling better about it," Connaughton said.

Eric Atkins chipped in 18 points and Jerian Grant had 12 in a strong performance by the Irish backcourt.

"When 3-pointers are falling in this building, it's really hard to beat us," Atkins said. "It was the same way against Syracuse."

Notre Dame has won four straight conference games, starting with the upset of then No. 1 Syracuse. The win also marked the fifth time the Irish have defeated a team ranked in the AP Top 25, the makings of a strong resume that could help them qualify for the NCAA Tournament.

"I think our guys are very focused on showing up on Selection Sunday," Brey said. "God bless them. They should be because they've put us in this position with their focus and businesslike approach to go get it."

Brey has watched his team grow after each upset, but took a little more from the win over Marquette.

"We had won. We were good and winning games, but that was a different and another step forward as far as our mentality, our maturity," Brey said, "and I'm going to refer to them as men when I see them on Monday again."

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