Ayers, Notre Dame hold off Villanova
South Bend, IN (Sports Network) – Ryan Ayers eclipsed his season average in
two possessions, draining a game-tying three, then burying 2-of-3 foul shots
with 1:39 on the clock, as No. 22 Notre Dame got payback for a defeat 10 days
earlier with a 66-63 victory over Villanova at the Joyce Center.
Ayers, the son of former Philadelphia 76ers head coach Randy Ayers, made his
eighth trey of the season with 2:29 left to square the contest at 60-60.
Curtis Sumpter and Mike Nardi each missed on the other end, and Ayers was
fouled while attempting a three. Only 10-of-16 from the foul line on the
season, Ayers calmly sank 2-of-3 attempts.
On Villanova’s next possession, Sumpter missed a three before Scottie Reynolds
threw the ball away while sitting on the floor. Colin Falls picked it up and
went the distance for a lay-in and a 64-60 edge.
Falls made two free throws to open a 66-60 lead, but no lead is safe in the
Reggie Redding made one free throw, then Dante Cunningham drained a pair to
cut the deficit to 66-63.
Notre Dame threw away the in-bounds pass and Villanova had two good looks to
tie the game. Redding missed from the right wing, but the ball wasn’t
controlled by the Irish.
The Wildcats then had another look, but Sumpter misfired from the opposite
wing before Zach Hillesland missed a pair of free throws. However, Sumpter’s
heave at the buzzer missed badly short and left.
Falls ended with 23 points and Russell Carter donated 14 points in the
victory. Notre Dame (17-4, 5-3 Big East) avenged a 102-87 loss to the Wildcats
at the Pavilion on January 17.
The Irish won despite shooting just 35 percent from the floor by making 29-
of-37 from the charity stripe.
Reynolds scored 19 points, while Sumpter, Nardi and Cunningham each added 11
for the Wildcats (14-6, 3-4). Villanova only shot 33 percent from the floor
and 32 percent from beyond the arc.
The Wildcats held a 25-21 halftime edge, then took a 47-40 lead on Reynolds’
three-point play with 9:46 remaining.
Cunningham’s free throw again opened a seven-point advantage, 55-48, with 7:12
on the clock, but the Irish scored nine straight points capped by three Falls’
free throws to seize a 57-55 edge.
Reynolds had eight assists and Sumpter grabbed 10 rebounds…Rob Kurz finished
with 10 points and 10 rebounds in the victory…Notre Dame improved to 15-0 at
home…Villanova’s impressive three-game win streak — against these Irish,
Texas and Providence — came to an end…Ayers came into Saturday averaging
2.5 points per game.