Notre Dame looked ready to comfortably slide by Rutgers Saturday night at Purcell Pavilion, but a 13-point second half lead evaporated before the Irish were able to escape with a 69-66 victory to end their two-game losing streak.
Jack Cooley once again led the way with another double-double notching 19 points and 10 rebounds. Pat Connaughton nailed four three-pointers to finish with 17 points overall. Eric Atkins added 14 points.
The Irish led nearly throughout the contest. They grabbed a seven point advantage in the first half on a couple of occasions including taking a 38-31 lead into halftime. The second half saw Notre Dame jump out to a 13-point lead on a Connaughton triple early on. However, Rutgers would begin to chip away.
The Scarlet Knights would get back into the game on an 11-2 run to make it 52-48 with 11:36 remaining. The Irish would get back up to an eight point lead, but Rutgers battled back and eventually cut the lead to 66-64 with 19 seconds left.
After Connaughton made one of two free throws, Eli Carter laid one in to make it 67-66 with only nine seconds to go. Then Mike Poole forced a tie up situation giving the ball back to Rutgers. But, it would be sixth-year senior Scott Martin taking a charge with just two seconds to go to basically ice the game. Atkins would make two free throws to give the Irish the three point win.
With the victory, Notre Dame improves to 15-3 overall and 3-2 in the Big East. They'll be in action again on Monday when they host Georgetown at 7pm. Rutgers falls to 12-5 overall and 3-3 in the conference. They host St. John's on Wednesday.