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Notre Dame's at-large hopes sink with first-round loss

NEW YORK (AP) -- Ricky Shields had never played beyond the first
round of the Big East tournament. The senior guard from Rutgers
finally got that win Wednesday night and may have ended the NCAA
hopes of Notre Dame.

"That was one of the goals I wanted to achieve before I left
here," he said. "I did not want it to end without that."

It won't.

Shields scored 21 points, including the first four of Rutgers'
game-closing 8-0 run, and the Scarlet Knights beat Notre Dame
72-65.

The win advanced 11th-seeded Rutgers (10-18) to a matchup with
third-seeded Syracuse (24-6) in the quarterfinals
on Thursday night at Madison Square Garden.

"Now we get a chance to match up with Syracuse again," Shields
said referring to an 86-84 loss to the Orange in which the Scarlet
Knights blew an 18-point halftime lead. "It feels good to have all
five guys clicking like we did early in the year and maybe we can
keep clicking here for some more wins."

The loss may have ended the NCAA Tournament at-large hopes for
Notre Dame (17-11), which has lost four of five.

"We'll find out our fate on Sunday," Irish coach Mike Brey
said in ending talk about an at-large bid.

Shields scored on a drive with 1:15 left to give the Scarlet
Knights the lead for good at 66-65. He then stole the ball from
Colin Falls and went the length of the court for a layup with 57
seconds left.

Notre Dame, which took its last lead at 65-64 on a 3-pointer by
Russell Carter with 1:37 to play, missed its last seven shots and
had the turnover by Falls.

Rutgers closed the game by going 4-for-5 from the free-throw
line over the final 32 seconds.

"We needed two stops at the end. We just needed to make two
stops," Notre Dame guard Chris Thomas said.

Shields said it came down to Rutgers making the plays in the
final minutes.

"I think our composure was supreme today," Shields said. "We
knew where we wanted to get the ball. I think in other games we
were kind of second-guessing ourselves."

Quincy Douby added 15 points for Rutgers, who had lost three
straight and six of seven, including a 66-56 loss at Notre Dame on
March 2.

Torin Francis had a season-high 21 points and grabbed 13
rebounds for the Irish, while Thomas had 17 points and Carter added
a season-high 12.

Carter, who didn't play in two of the last five games, played a
season-high 22 minutes. Chris Quinn, the team's second-leading
scorer with a 13.1 average, injured his right shoulder with 9
minutes left in the first half and didn't return. He didn't score
in the game.

"We're in a little bit different rhythm when Quinn's not in
there," Brey said. "I think it makes Chris Thomas try and do a
little too much but he had to do it tonight with Quinn out of
there."

Falls finished 1-for-10 from the field, including 1-for-8 on 3s,
and had three points for Notre Dame.

"Ricky played an outstanding game on both ends," Rutgers coach
Gary Waters said. "He was the one guarding Falls. He made the
commitment throughout this entire game that he wasn't going to let
him score. That's what he did."

The win snapped a four-game losing streak in the Big East
tournament for Rutgers, which last won a game in 1999.

"I think we were a little hungrier," Douby said. "We
struggled in the Big East this year and we weren't just going to
lay down and let them get into the NCAA."