PITTSBURGH - Monday's game became a character test for No. 25 Notre Dame, one the Irish found a way to ace.
Looking shaky early against No. 20 Pittsburgh, the Irish fell into a 16-point hole in less than 13 minutes. The Irish got it turned around, then held on for a 51-42 Big East victory over the Panthers.
Notre Dame led by as many as nine in the second half after outscoring the Panthers 48-23 following a first-half technical foul on Mike Brey.
Notre Dame's Jerian Grant contributed several big shots in the second half on his way to 13 points. Jack Cooley added 13 points and nine rebounds for the Irish.
Tray Woodall had 11 points and was the only Pitt player in double figures.
Grant helped quiet what had been a very loud Petersen Events Center crowd. The Panthers failed to make a single 3-point basket, going 0-for-8 from beyond the arc while Notre Dame was 6-for-14.
Grant was just 1-for-8 on two-point shots but 3-for-7 on 3-pointers, and every one was significant. Grant drained one from long range to give the Irish their first lead with just under 15 minutes left. He hit another to give Notre Dame a four-point lead with just over eight minutes to go, and his final 3-pointer at the 4:48 mark made it a nine-point game.
The Irish (21-6, 9-5) held on for their fifth consecutive win in the series. Pittsburgh falls to 20-7, 8-6.
The Irish took their first lead when a Grant 3-pointer bounced high off the rim and fell through. That gave Notre Dame a 29-28 lead with just under 15 minutes remaining. And when Cooley tipped in an Irish miss, Notre Dame's lead was bumped to three. It also capped a 28-9 Irish run after Brey's technical.
The Irish, still sluggish after playing three of four league games in overtime, missed 18 of their first 19 shots to fall into an early 13-point hole against Pittsburgh. Notre Dame then made five of six and pulled within two points following a Cooley basket.
Pittsburgh led by as many as 16 in the first half, but then labored with only one basket the final 7:11.
The Panthers led 22-19 at intermission. Pat Connaughton had a chance to tie it at 22 on Notre Dame's final possessions but couldn't connect on a corner 3-pointer
Needing a good start on the road after a blowout loss Saturday at Providence, Notre Dame missed its first five shots and had three turnovers by the time the first media timeout arrived at 15:11. The Irish often drained the shot clock under 10 seconds with their ball movement but still were not able to get a really good look.
When the Irish fell into an 8-1 hole at the under-12 timeout, it marked the seventh traight league road game - every one to date this season - that they have trailed by at least seven points away from home.
Notre Dame was 0-for-9 with six turnovers the first 8:02 - but somehow was only down eight.
Notes: Monday was the third game in six days for Notre Dame, which has the next five days off. ... Both teams were coming off league losses Saturday . . . The Irish came into the game 0-2 in Big Monday games. ... Notre Dame had lost its last two league road games by 16 and 17 points . . . Monday's game was the 200th in the history of the Petersen Events Center . . .. Entering Monday's action, Jack Cooley had 18 double doubles this season, 31 for his career. He had just nine boards Monday ... The Irish entered the game leading the league in assists (17.9) and were second nationally.