Pitt Defense Stifles The Irish

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It had been 78 straight games since Notre Dame's Troy Murphy had failed to score in double figures. That streak ended with a thud Thursday night when Pittsburgh threw a defensive curtain over the All-American and stunned No. 19 Notre Dame 66-54 to advance to the semifinals of the Big East tournament.

The Panthers will face Syracuse in the semis after the Orangemen edged Providence 55-54 in the second game of the night doubleheader. Boston College and Seton Hall, winners in earlier games Thursday, will meet in the other semifinal.

Ricardo Greer led four Pitt players in double figures with 17 points as the Panthers (17-12) withstood a 3-point attack by Notre Dame to reach the tournament semifinals for the first time since 1989. Brandin Knight had 10 points and 11 assists, and Isaac Hawkins contributed 12 rebounds.

Murphy, averaging 22.6 points per game, managed just eight against a smothering Pitt defense that denied him the ball all night long. It was the second-lowest total of his career. He had five points in a game against Syracuse in his freshman year when he shot 0-for-11 from the floor.

"I didn't play well tonight," Murphy said. "I hurt our team. I got wide-open looks. I didn't shoot the ball well. I'm counted on to do a lot for this team. I can't come out and have a game like tonight. That bothers me."

Murphy made just 2 of 11 shots from the field, often double-teamed by Pitt. He's faced that before but not with the intensity the Panthers applied.

"They doubled me on the catch instead of on the floor," `he said. "It's such a scramble, everyone running everywhere. It's tough to make a move."

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  • "Coach told us to keep the pressure on Murphy from the opening tap," Greer said.

    It was the third straight bad game for Murphy, who shot 6-for-14 against Connecticut and 8-for-21 against Georgetown, scoring 17 in each game, both losses for the Irish (19-9).

    Pitt opened the game with a 15-2 run, only to have Notre Dame reverse that with a 15-2 spurt of its own. But the Panthers weathered the comeback and by halftime had rebuilt the lead to 36-29.

    With Greer and Jaron Brown - who scored 14 points off the bench - doing much of the work, Pitt stayed on top in the second half, rarely allowing Murphy near the ball and never letting Notre Dame get closer than four points.

    "Murphy's a great player but it's a tribute to our team defense how we stopped him," Pitt coach Ben Howland said.

    The Panthers struggled from the foul line down the stretch, missing opportunities to extend the lead even more. For the game, they made just 12 of 24 free throws. But Notre Dame got to the foul line only four times, and that proved decisive.

    Martin Inglesby, who made five of Notre Dame's 12 3-pointers, led the Irish with 15 points.


    ©2001 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed
    • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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