BROOKLYN, N.Y. -- Rex Pflueger had eight offensive rebounds in the first 33 games of Notre Dame’s season.
His ninth kept the Fighting Irish’s season alive.
Pflueger, a freshman guard, wasn’t supposed to be one of the options on Notre Dame’s final play. The ball was going to be in Demetrius Jackson's hands. If not, it was going to be in Zach Auguste's hands after an offensive rebound. Notre Dame knew it, Stephen F. Austin knew it.
Jackson went and got the ball with fewer than 20 seconds left and a one-point deficit. He drove and threw up a contested shot in traffic that didn’t fall -- and Auguste grabbed the offensive rebound, but missed the putback.
Out of nowhere came the 198-pound Pflueger -- for his only field goal of the day, the winning tip-in to give Notre Dame a 76-75 win against Stephen F. Austin.
This was supposed to be another step in Thomas Walkup's quest to become the face of the NCAA tournament. A bearded face at home in the borough of Brooklyn, to be sure. He finished with 21 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists -- but missed his final two shots of the game, which left the door open for Notre Dame.
The Fighting Irish’s defense once again stepped up down the stretch, much as it did against Michigan in Friday’s first-round win. Stephen F. Austin missed its final four field goal attempts and had only two points in the final 3:35.