Notre Dame Took Down Rutgers At The Buzzer In A Double Overtime Thriller

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After three contests, the First Four games in Dayton had yet to deliver much in the way of drama as the appetizer for Thursday’s start to the NCAA Tournament, but Notre Dame and Rutgers saved the best for last on Wednesday night, pushing things into Thursday morning with a double overtime thriller for the right to play Alabama on Friday afternoon.

The two teams traded leads throughout, with Rutgers holding the largest advantage at eight points, but the Irish would not go away, even taking a late lead before ultimately pushing the game to overtime after a Gio Baker fadeaway at the buzzer fell short. That first overtime period was one for the books, as both teams found big buckets in the final minute. First, it was Ron Harper Jr.who gave Rutgers a one-point lead with this wild banked in three that, after a stop on the other end when a Notre Dame player dribbled the ball off their leg out of bounds, seemed to give the Scarlet Knights a path to victory.

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However, on the ensuing inbound, Rutgers got all kinds of discombobulated and just lobbed a ball up under their own basket, which the Irish stole and laid up and in to retake the lead.

Rutgers wasn’t done, though, as they found Paul Mulcahy for a go-ahead three on the other end to bounce back from that turnover and take a two-point advantage, but Notre Dame came down and, with Rutgers desperate to run the Irish off the three point line, got a game-tying layup to force a second overtime.

In that second overtime the teams once again traded early leads before Notre Dame took brief control thanks to this bucket from Paul Atkinson.

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A pair of free throws made it a three-point game, but Harper Jr. again had the answer with a wild three to tie things up with 22 seconds to play.

However, Atkinson’s presence inside was just too much for Rutgers, as the big man picked up an offensive rebound for a putback layup (and his 25th and 26th points of the night) with 1.4 seconds to play to finally put Rutgers to bed for good in an 89-87 win for the Irish.

It was quite the opening act for the full slate of games that tip off just after noon on Thursday, as one of the best weekends of the sports year is now officially upon us.

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