Harangody scores 24 to lead ND to win over UAB

Published 7:56 am Wednesday, March 18, 2009

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Notre Dame, playing before its smallest crowd in more than a decade, still mustered enough energy to beat Alabama-Birmingham.

Luke Harangody scored four of his 22 points and had a blocked shot during a decisive 10-point run to lead Notre Dame to a 70-64 victory over UAB in the first round of the NIT Tuesday night before a crowd of just 2,039. It was the lowest attendance for a Notre Dame NIT game since at least 1992.

“It was something unusual,” Harangody said. “We knew there wasn’t going to be a big crowd out here tonight. Coach talked about the quick turnaround and things like that and being St. Patrick’s Day. We were expecting that. But as the game went on it felt more and more like a Big East game. The crowd got loud.”

The previous smallest crowd at the Joyce Center in the past decade was the 2,517 who showed up to see the Irish lose to Holy Cross 78-73 in the first round of the NIT in 2005.

Despite the crowd’s size, Notre Dame coach Mike Brey praised those who showed up for bringing some intensity.

“Our crowd really helped us,” he said. “Our students were great and the people that were there gave us energy.”

Harangody’s basket inside gave the Irish (19-14) a 60-50 lead. Robert Vaden, who led UAB (22-12) with 24 points, hit back-to-back 3s to cut the lead to 60-56 with 3:50 left. But a three-point play by Harangody ended the run.

Tyrone Nash started the decisive run with a tip-in off a miss by Harangody and a pair of free throws. Harangody gave the Irish a 56-50 lead on a dunk, then blocked a shot inside by UAB’s Paul Delaney III. UAB coach Mike Davis was called for a technical for leaving the coach’s box while arguing that Delaney was fouled.

Delaney said Harangody hit him in the right forearm.

“I thought it was obvious. But like coach said, that wasn’t the play that cost us the game,” Delaney said.

After Kyle McAlarney, who had 12 points for the Irish, made a pair of free throws, Harangody capped the run with a basket inside.

The Blazers outscored the Irish 36-26 inside, but were just 5-of-13 from the free-throw line. They also got no points from the bench, while the Irish got 16 points from their reserves.

It was an unsuccessful return home for Vaden, who is from Indianapolis and started two seasons at Indiana until following Davis to UAB in 2006. Vaden was 9-of-16 from the floor, including 6-of-13 from 3-point range.

“Vaden basically made some really tough shots to make it interesting, which you thought he was going to do,” Brey said.

Harangody added 10 rebounds for the Irish, who had a 40-38 edge on the boards. Lawrence Kinnard pulled down 15 rebounds for the Blazers.

Guard Tory Jackson said the key for the Irish was they stayed tough.

“We took the punches. I think we dished them back,” he said.

Notre Dame improved to 5-3 on St. Patrick’s Day, including 4-1 in NIT games.

The Irish play the winner of the New Mexico-Nebraska game.