Looking for their first Big East road win of the season Sunday, the ninth-ranked Fighting Irish try to snap a two-game losing streak visiting the Red Storm, who continue a brutal stretch in league play.
After holding its first four conference foes - three were ranked in the Top 10 - to 43.6 percent shooting, including 18 of 68 from 3-point range, Notre Dame (14-3, 3-2) had no answers for Marquette in Monday’s 79-57 road loss. The Golden Eagles shot 53.1 percent and made 12 of 17 3s.
“I’m not sure who would have beat them here,” senior guard Ben Hansbrough said.
The Irish fared much better in a 76-61 victory over the Red Storm (10-5, 3-2) on Jan. 8, holding St. John’s to 38.2 percent from the field.
“We made a lot of mistakes on offense, a lot of quick shots,” senior Justin Brownlee said after scoring a team-high 17 points in the Red Storm’s first conference defeat.
Hansbrough hit four 3s and scored a career-high 26 points in the win, but he also played his usual brand of hard-nosed defense.
“He sets a great tone for us because of his strong personality of defending and he truly takes pride in that,” coach Mike Brey said of the reigning Big East player of the week. “He’s not only typically playing the whole game for us, but he’s scoring and going for the jugular on teams to put them away.”
Hansbrough, though, had his string of double-digit scoring games snapped at 10 in the loss to the Golden Eagles.
Trying to avoid their third straight loss at St. John’s as a ranked team - then-No. 7 Notre Dame fell 71-65 in its last matchup with the Red Storm at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 3, 2009 - the Irish will be without Carleton Scott (hamstring) for the fourth straight game. While the senior forward is not expected to return until next month, Brey’s team has performed well with freshman Eric Atkins stepping into the starting lineup.
Atkins had a season-best 15 points against Marquette, and he is averaging 10.0 points during Scott’s absence. Atkins had seven points, five assists and three steals as the Irish snapped St. John’s season high-tying five-game winning streak Jan. 8.
The Red Storm will look to avenge that loss and regroup from Wednesday’s 76-59 loss to the undefeated Orange.
St. John’s fell to 1-2 in a stretch of eight straight against teams that have been ranked this season.
“Tomorrow’s a new day in the Big East and you have to look to the next game,” senior D.J. Kennedy said.
Red Storm leading scorer Dwight Hardy, a senior guard, is hoping a new day brings better results after missing 11 of 15 shots and scoring 12 points versus Syracuse.
Hardy had eight last week in South Bend after scoring 20 or more in his previous four.
“He beat us here last year and hit some big-time threes,” Hansbrough said of a 69-68 loss Feb. 14. “This year, it’s a different team and we came out throwing the first punches.”
Senior forward Tim Abromaitis, tied with Hansbrough with 15.8 points per game, is averaging 18.0 and 7.5 boards in two matchups with St. Johns.
The Red Storm have dropped 33 of 36 to ranked opponents, but two of those victories have come at home against the Irish.