WASHINGTON (AP)—After struggling to find its shot all game, Notre Dame broke out of a shooting slump in a big way.
Kyle McAlarney scored a career-high 18 points and keyed a decisive second-half run to help Notre Dame beat No. 23 Maryland 81-74 Sunday night, handing the Terrapins their first loss of the season.
Notre Dame (6-1) was shooting just 31 percent midway through the second half before making ten straight shots—including five 3-pointers, four easy layups and a dunk—during a 25-7 run that turned a 44-37 deficit into a 62-51 lead in a span of just 5 minutes.
McAlarney, who had been averaging just over six points a game, scored 10 during the run, including eight straight that gave the Irish a 57-49 lead.
Maryland (8-1) got no closer than six points the rest of the game.
Notre Dame coach Mike Brey credited McAlarney not only with making big shots, but breaking Maryland’s pressure defense and helping his teammates find open shots.
“This was a big game for him. This was the first atmosphere like this for our new point guard,” Brey said referring to the pro-Maryland crowd at a technically neutral site. “Talk about a guy controlling the tempo … and taking what the defense gives you.”
Maryland coach Gary Williams said the Terrapins “didn’t have the intensity level necessary to win the game.”
“They made shots and took advantage of defensive lapses on our part,” Williams said. “They got a lot of layups and we couldn’t stop hem from driving the ball to the basket. Once they felt they could score on us, they got some confidence.”
McAlarney finished 6-of-11 from the field, including 4-of-6 from 3-point range. Rob Kurz also scored 16 for the Irish and Colin Falls scored 14 despite hitting only one of eight 3-pointers.
“We got a lot of open looks because we broke the pressure,” McAlarney said.
D.J. Strawberry led the Terrapins with 17 points. Freshman Greivis Vasquez scored 13 on 4-of-15 shooting, and Ekene Ibekwe also scored 13.
The Irish shot just 33 percent in the first half and Maryland led 32-29 at halftime. The Terrapins opened up their largest advantage of the game 5 minutes into the second half, building a 41-33 advantage.
Then the Irish found their range and improved to 56 percent shooting in the second half, often finding open 3-point shots or easy layups.
Maryland shot 42 percent, including 6-of-18 on 3-point shots. Williams said he was dismayed by a season-low 11 assists.
“We didn’t get the ball moving like we did in previous games,” Williams said.
Maryland has lost five of the last six games it has played in the BB&T Classic, a tournament that features many of the Washington, D.C., area’s top teams.