St. John's loses to Notre Dame as tempers flare

St. John's guard Sir'Dominic Pointer drives the lane St. John's guard Sir'Dominic Pointer drives the lane past Notre Dame guard Pat Connaughton during the first half as St. John's guard Chris Obekpa watches. (March 5, 2013) Photo Credit: AP

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SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Jerian Grant had 21 points and eight assists, Eric Atkins 15 points and No. 24 Notre Dame held St. John's to 18-percent shooting in the second half in a 66-40 victory last night.

The Fighting Irish (23-7, 11-6 Big East) ended a three-game losing streak to the Red Storm (16-13, 8-9), which lost for the fifth time in six games. Notre Dame's Cameron Biedscheid and Sir'Dominic Pointer of the Red Storm got in a skirmish with 1:46 left. Both were given technicals and ejected, and each will be suspended for a game.

Jack Cooley had 12 points and 13 rebounds for the Irish.

JaKarr Sampson had 12 points and Phil Greene 10 for the Red Storm, which blocked 10 shots. Pointer had seven points, 12 rebounds and four blocks.

St. John's went 1-for-13 on three-pointers, including 0-for-9 in the second half.

St. John's athleticism gave Notre Dame problems early. The Red Storm outscored the Irish 14-4 in the paint in the first half, had six blocked shots and took a seven-point lead late in the half. But the Irish shot their way out of it in the second half, making 68 percent of their shots after shooting 28 percent during the first 20 minutes.

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"We were able to keep Notre Dame in check during the first half,'' coach Steve Lavin said, "but they pounded us in the paint during the second half with high-percentage shots."

After St. John's led 28-24 on a rebound follow by Jamal Branch, Notre Dame's Pat Connaughton hit a jumper and two free throws to ignite a 14-2 run.

Later, Grant hit a 17-foot jumper and a three to give the Irish a 48-34 lead. They continued to pull away, going up 66-38 on two three-pointers by Grant.

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