NCAA tournament: Cormac Ryan powers No. 11 Notre Dame to upset of No. 6 Alabama
Notre Dame will play at least three games in the NCAA tournament.
The No. 11 seed Fighting Irish upset No. 6 Alabama 78-64 in the first round of the men's West Region on Friday, two days after beating Rutgers in double-overtime in a First Four play-in game.
Cormac Ryan had a career-high 29 points for the Irish as he was 7-of-9 from behind the 3-point line. Ryan entered the game averaging fewer than nine points per game and hadn’t scored over 16 points in a single game this season until he went for 20 against Virginia Tech in the ACC tournament. The junior then had 16 against Rutgers before exploding for his best game ever on Friday.
Alabama lost star guard Jahvon Quinerly early in the first half to a knee injury. Quinerly, who averages 14 points per game, had taken just two shots in three minutes before he went down to the ground in pain after his left knee buckled. He was able to come back to the bench with a large brace on his left leg after the injury but never returned to the court.
Notre Dame jumped out to a five-point lead after shooting 6-of-8 from behind the arc as a team in the first 20 minutes. The hot shooting cooled just a bit in the second half as the Irish finished 10-of-16 from behind the arc. Alabama was just 8-of-24, though that 35% was better than the Crimson Tide typically shoots from deep.
Notre Dame shot nearly 54% from the field and was able to win by 14 despite 18 turnovers because of its shooting. Alabama’s Keon Ellis had 16 points, but the Crimson Tide clearly missed Quinerly as they couldn’t mount a second-half comeback. Alabama was trailing by eight early after a dunk by Noah Gurley in the second half, and Juwan Gary stole the ball on the next possession. But Gary was called for an offensive foul that made the Alabama radio crew livid.
Alabama radio announcers WENT OFF
— Jake Crain (@JakeCrain_) March 18, 2022
Ryan made a three right after Gary's foul and Alabama never got the deficit below eight for the rest of the game.
The Irish’s win in San Diego came less than 48 hours after it knocked off Rutgers in double-overtime minutes into St. Patrick’s Day in Dayton, Ohio. Notre Dame won that game 89-87 after shooting just 32% from three against the Scarlet Knights.
Now Notre Dame advances to the second round to play No. 3 seed Texas Tech after the Red Raiders easily beat Montana State in the first round. Tech was also exceptionally hot from behind the arc in its win. The Red Raiders were 12-of-20 from three in the 97-62 victory.