NEW ORLEANS -- As Carleton Scott's 3-pointer sailed toward the hoop and rattled around the rim, Old Dominion's Keyon Carter was already bracing for the possibility of a tie game.
Then the shot popped out, giving the Monarchs the NCAA tournament's first upset."I said, 'Here we go again.' Those guys made a lot of clutch 3s," Carter said. "I was kind of thinking overtime, but gratefully, it rimmed out."
Scott's 3-pointer didn't fall, and Luke Harangody's putback wasn't enough for sixth-seeded Notre Dame on Thursday. Old Dominion held on for a 51-50 victory in the first round of the South Regional, its first NCAA tournament win since beating Villanova in triple overtime in 1995."I think it reflects the magic of March, the way the two teams battled," Old Dominion coach Blaine Taylor said. "One of the officials turns to me at the two-minute mark and said, 'It's been a heck of a game,' and I really think it was."In a game that was as slow-paced as advertised, Notre Dame (23-12) led 30-22 early in the second half before the Monarchs(27-8) used a 9-0 run to take the lead.It was close the rest of the way.
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Frank Hassell's three-point play for Old Dominion with 5:51 remaining tied it at 43, and neither team scored for the next 3 minutes. Old Dominion's Darius James traded 3-pointers with Scott, and Gerald Lee put the Monarchs ahead with a shot from the perimeter. After Harangody missed inside, Lee made a free throw to make it 49-46 with 56.2 seconds left.Tory Jackson missed a potential tying 3, but James missed the front end of a one-and-one from the foul line for Old Dominion. Harangody finally scored his first points of the game with 12.6 seconds left to make it 49-48, but Carter made both free throws with 9.6 seconds remaining.
Old Dominion began the game in a man-to-man defense, and Notre Dame raced out to an early 15-6 lead. Midway through the first half the Monarchs started sprinkling in zone defense with great success. After halftime, they went exclusively to a zone.
--compiled by Albert Larcada
Scott was well defended on Notre Dame's final possession, but he was able to get a shot off that didn't miss by much. Taylor said he wasn't about to have his team foul to prevent the chance at a tying 3-pointer."I guess I'm kind of old school. I think we can guard people and stop them," Taylor said. "I discussed it with our players and our coaches. I said, 'Hey, what do you all think?' The kids are kind of like me. We're kind of stubborn and hard-headed."Scott missed, and Harangody's putback left Notre Dame a point short."I was trying to draw a foul," Harangody said. "There was only one second left."After the buzzer sounded, the Old Dominion fans began chanting "C-A-A" -- a reference to the Colonial Athletic Association, the Monarchs' league. Old Dominion wasn't the least bit intimidated by its Big East opponent, having already beaten Georgetown earlier this season.
"We knew it was going to be a dogfight," said Scott, who finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Irish. "They're a great team."Notre Dame entered the game having won six of its last seven with a more deliberate offense installed after Harangody hurt his knee. The 6-foot-8 senior went down Feb. 11 and missed five games, and had been coming off the bench.He didn't start Thursday either, and when he did play, he was shackled by some early foul trouble and a tough Old Dominion zone."They played a good game and I played a bad game," he said. "When you don't hit a shot early and you're coming off the bench, it's just very hard to get in a rhythm. I tried to let it come to me, and it just didn't come today. Obviously this is not the way I wanted to go out."Ben Hansbrough, whose brother Tyler won the national title at North Carolina last year, scored 17 points for Notre Dame. Hassell scored 15 points for Old Dominion.Notre Dame shot 36 percent from the field for the game."We defended like heck to keep giving ourselves a chance to win," Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. "We couldn't get two offensive possessions in a row to kind of give us a little bit of confidence."