SOUTH BEND Ind. – Notre Dame frequently lives and dies by the 3. On Sunday, UCLA killed the Irish with 3s.
The Bruins hit a season-high 14 3-pointers, with Arron Afflalo making all three of his attempts, scoring 17 points to lead UCLA to a 75-65 victory.
“Fourteen 3s is a lot of 3s, and we had a tough time getting back into the game because of that,” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said.
The Bruins (16-9) dominated throughout, opening a 59-39 lead midway through the second half when Brian Morrison hit a 3-pointer. The Irish (16-9) used a 19-9 spurt to close to 68-58 on a slam dunk by Torin Francis with 5:19 left. But Afflalo answered with a 3-pointer.
“Every time it seemed they came back, we had an answer,” Morrison said.
The Irish had a chance to close the gap to five points in the final two minutes, but Notre Dame’s Chris Quinn missed a 3-pointer and Dijon Thompson made a pair of free throws to restore the Bruins’ 10-point lead.
“We had a little letdown, but we regrouped and played safe in the last three or four minutes,” Morrison said.
Thompson had 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Bruins, Jordan Farmar and Morrison had 12 points each and Michael Fey added 10 points and nine rebounds.
Quinn led the Irish with 17 points and six assists, and Francis and Chris Thomas had 10 points each. Thomas also recorded his 800th career assist, joining Oregon State’s Gary Payton and Syracuse’s Sherman Douglas as the only players in NCAA history to score 2,000 points and have 800 assists.
“It just shows how much we need him every play,” Brey said. “I get numb to his numbers sometimes.”
Thomas said the Irish simply didn’t play good defense early.
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