ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The University of Michigan men's basketball team defeated the Notre Dame Fighting Irish 87-84 in double overtime Monday night (March 20) at Crisler Arena to advance to the quarterfinals of the NIT. Tied at 84 with only seconds remaining, senior guard Daniel Horton (Cedar Hill, Texas/Cedar Hill HS) dribbled into traffic before kicking the ball outside to junior guard Dion Harris (Detroit, Mich./Redford HS) who threw up an off balanced prayer for the win.
The thrilling Wolverines victory, which mirrored a heavyweight fight, is only the latest in a series of great ball games between the two schools, as Michigan has three straight victories against the Irish, with each triumph coming within four points or less.
With the win, the Wolverines advance to the NIT Quarterfinals and will host No. 3 seed Miami (Fla.), who advanced with a 53-52 win at No. 2 Creighton, Wednesday (March 22) at Crisler Arena. Tipoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPNU.
Wednesday's tickets will go on sale at 8 a.m. on Tuesday (March 21) morning. Tickets prices are $10 in the lower blue, $8 general admission in the upper gold and $5 for UM students in the bleacher section. To order, please visit mgoblue.com/tickets, call 1-866-296-6849 or visit the ticket office at 1000 South State Street from 8 a.m. until 7 p.m. (extended hours) on Tuesday or from 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Wednesday.
In the double overtime win, Horton led the Wolverines with 29 points on 10-of-19 shooting, including 3-of-7 from beyond the three-point arc, in addition to finishing 6-of-7 from the foul line. Horton also controlled the flow of the game, coming away with three steals and dishing out eight assists, none more important than the pass to set up Harris. The hero, Harris, recorded 15 points on 6-of-15 shooting from the field, while drilling 3-of-9 three-pointers, including the final dagger. He finished with four rebounds and four assists in 43 minutes of action coming off the bench.
Two other Wolverines finished with 15 points, as senior forwards Chris Hunter (Gary, Ind./West Side HS) and Lester Abram (Pontiac, Mich./Northern HS) rounded out the Michigan effort. Hunter sparked the Maize and Blue in the second half, finishing with five buckets, seven rebounds, three steals and two monster blocks. Abram, who tallied 12 of his 15 points in the second half, shot 8-of-9 from the charity stripe.
Trailing for much of the first half, the Wolverines entered the second half down 41-33. Michigan's comeback was slow and methodical, landing a pair of free throws on one possession and then nailing a three-pointer the next. The rally began as U-M opened the second half on a 6-0 run. Notre Dame absorbed the punches, extending the lead back to eight (56-48) with 11:08 left. Michigan kept moving, never letting the Irish land the big hit, as a pair of three-pointers and inside shots by Hunter and Harris had Michigan standing toe-to-toe with Notre Dame, down 64-63 with just under two minutes left in regulation.
With the game's decision in the balance, the Wolverines turned to Horton who netted Michigan's last five points and left the Maize and Blue up 70-68 with 13 seconds remaining. A basket by guard Chris Quinn tied the game at 70 and sent the contest into the overtime.
The battle continued into the first OT, as Notre Dame opened up by regaining a three point lead. Free-throws by Abram and Horton kept the Irish off balance, and a Harris bucket gave U-M a 75-73 advantage with 3:09 left. The Irish swung back with two free throws and a bucket to take the lead with just over a minute remaining, but a Horton basket with 52 seconds left knotted the game at 77 and sent the game into double-overtime.
Hunter continued his strong play in the second OT, drilling the first basket of the period. Notre Dame followed with two free-throws. Abram came back with a bucket and a free-throw, putting U-M up 82-79, only to be topped by a pair of free throws by Quinn. Hunter then connected on two free throws of his own as Notre Dame danced up court for three more points. Tied at 84, and with the Fighting Irish on the ropes, Harris landed the knockout punch, a three-pointer from the wing for the win.
The Wolverines opened up the contest as they did last week against UTEP, utilizing a mass substitution system to create match up problems against the visiting Irish and battling to an early 7-7 tie. Horton led the Wolverines early on with four points, as Abram -- starting his second straight game since returning from a lower leg injury -- connected on a three-pointer from the wing. Horton's second bucket of the game, that knotted the game at seven, came with 16:43 left in the first half.
Just as Michigan looked to seize control of the contest with the play of its backcourt, the Irish exploded, enjoying a 16-4 run that featured three Notre Dame three-point field goals. Searching for a lone bright spot, the four Michigan points came on a terrific pair of baskets by Sims and junior forward Brent Petway (McDonough, Ga./Griffin HS). The Sims up-and-under lay-up brought the score to 12-9 as Petway's baseline jam cut the defecit to 15-11. The Irish would cap off the run with an 8-0 spurt, moving the score to 23-11 with just over 12-minutes remaining before half.
Coming out of the media timeout at 11:20, the Wolverines clawed back and came within seven (25-18) behind a pair of buckets by Harris, who netted a driving lay-up before stepping behind the three-point line for his fifth point of the night. The Irish, however, continued to fight and stretched the lead back out to 32-20 with eight minutes left before the break.
The teams would trade baskets over the next four minutes, with baskets coming down low from Petway and Sims, leading to a 36-26 defecit. With the first half winding down, the Wolverines turned it on, cutting the lead 37-33 with 2:23 to go. Following a put-back by Hunter, Horton orchestrated the Michigan rally, first finding Brown for a lay-up and then stepping beyond the arc drilling his first three-pointer of the night. The Wolverines would fail to hold the Irish down for long though, as Notre Dame finished with the final four points of the half, forcing U-M to enter the break trailing 41-33.
Contact: Tom Wywrot (734) 763-4423
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