When Seton Hall coach Bobby Gonzalez was questioned about blowing nearly all of a 29-point lead in the Pirates' 109-106 first-round win over Providence in the Big East tournament Tuesday night, he said artistic merit shouldn't be the criteria in determining NCAA bids. But the Pirates not only failed artistically in their second-round matchup with Notre Dame, they also lost where it counts, 68-56.

A victory would have given Seton Hall (19-12) a two-game sweep against the Irish (22-10), and that would have been a powerful argument. But it didn't happen, and the Pirates most likely were scratched out of the NCAA's bracket list.

Notre Dame simply outclassed Gonzalez's team, shooting 52.7 percent from the field and holding the Hall to 34.5 percent shooting, including a miserable 2-of-16 performance from three-point range. Luke Harangody, the Big East's leading scorer, who has been nursing a deep bone bruise, came off the bench and played just under 24 minutes but produced an efficient 20-point, 10-rebound game.

"My body feels great right now," Harangody said. "Coach [Mike Brey] played it smart and got me in and out of there."

Tory Jackson added 13 points and six assists for Notre Dame. Jeremy Hazell led Seton Hall with 15 points but made only one of nine three-pointers. Herb Pope had 14 points and nine rebounds, and Eugene Harvey totaled 10 points.

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So, is it "NIT, here they come" for the Pirates? Brey cautioned the media not to write off the Hall until the dust starts to settle from all the conference tournaments. But the way things are shaping up, the Hall and South Florida were the ninth and 10th teams in the Big East standings with 9-9 records, and now, they're 10-10 after tournament play. That might not be enough with eight quality teams from one league ahead of them.

Gonzalez blamed fatigue for his team's poor shooting performance after scoring 53 points more the previous night. Naturally, he agreed with Brey's words of caution about writing off the Pirates. Again, Gonzalez noted that his team played a tougher schedule than Notre Dame.

"This is not about us and Notre Dame," Gonzalez said. "It's about the Big East. Should we have nine teams in?...I think we should be on the board. I think we can win an NCAA game, especially with some rest."