ShareThis Page

Brey's technical seems to turn tide for Notre Dame vs. Pitt

| Monday, Feb. 18, 2013, 10:09 p.m.
Notre Dame's Jerian Grant makes a second-half shot over Pitt's Trey Zeigler on Monday, Feb. 18, 2013, at Petersen Events Center. (Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review)
Notre Dame's Jerian Grant makes a second-half shot over Pitt's Trey Zeigler on Monday, Feb. 18, 2013, at Petersen Events Center. (Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review)

How does a team follow its worst game of the season with one of its worst halves of any season, and then find itself spreading the floor and milking the clock to protect a big win on the road?

How does a team miss 17 of its first 18 shots, fall behind by 16 points and then come back to win handily?

For Notre Dame, it was fundamental: Defense and a 40-25 rebounding edge fueled the comeback.

“For our group to withstand that start ...,” Irish coach Mike Brey said after his team came back to beat Pitt, 51-42, at the Petersen Events Center. “And I'm just so thrilled with how we guarded and rebounded. To outrebound them by 15 and keep them off the offensive boards, because they do that so well.”

On Feb. 9, Notre Dame outlasted Louisville in five overtimes, the longest Big East regular-season game ever. Four days later, the Fighting Irish beat DePaul in one overtime. And in the game after that, on Saturday, Notre Dame trailed Providence by 24 points before losing by 17. Brey likened his squad to a junior varsity outfit. Maybe it was an aberration for a team that had lost just twice in its previous seven games, or fatigue.

But for most of the first half against Pitt on Monday, Notre Dame was even worse.

At the start, the Irish managed just one basket in nearly 13 minutes. They missed 17 shots. They sprinkled in six turnovers and trailed, 19-3.

“Yesterday we came down here, and we really worked on our offense,” Brey said. “And you can really tell the teacher that I am. We got off to a great start offensively. They really digested that.”

Then everything changed. Everything flipped. Brey, raging at his players and the officials, drew a technical foul (good for Pitt's 19th point), and the teams traded places. Notre Dame outscored Pitt, 16-3, muzzling the Oakland Zoo and making it a game. The Panthers' halftime lead was only 22-19.

“Guys just said, ‘Keep playing defense,' ” guard Jerian Grant said. “They only had 19 points. We were getting the looks; we just had to keep playing defense.”

The technical seemed to be a turning point. Pitt guard Tray Woodall thought he noticed change in the way fouls were called. Whatever the effect, it was good for Notre Dame and bad for Pitt.

“I don't know how premeditated (it was),” Brey said. “I was just so frustrated. I thought on some of our drives we were getting bumped a little bit. He probably could have thrown me out.

“But sometimes that does change the vibe.”

Bob Cohn is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @BCohn_Trib.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.