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Notre Dame holds off Pitt to reach Big East semis

Brad Wanamaker #22 of the Pittsburgh Panthers goes

Brad Wanamaker #22 of the Pittsburgh Panthers goes to the hoop against Carleton Scott #34 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish during the quarterfinal of the 2010 NCAA Big East Tournament. (March 11, 2010) Photo Credit: Getty Images

So much for higher seeds and double byes.

Notre Dame outworked and outshined second-seeded Pittsburgh last night, beating the Panthers, 50-45, to reach tonight's Big East semifinals against third-seeded West Virginia.

Pittsburgh was the third high seed bounced from the tournament yesterday, joining No. 1 Syracuse and No. 4 Villanova. "So much for the double byes, huh?" joked Notre Dame coach Mike Brey.

Luke Harangody and Tony Jackson scored 12 points each for seventh-seeded Notre Dame, which used defensive stops down the stretch to fend off scrappy Pittsburgh.

The Panthers (24-8), who trailed by eight in the first half, seemed poised to steal the momentum late.

Pittsburgh cut its deficit to 47-45 on Brad Wanamaker's drive with 1:37 to go, but the Panthers couldn't contain Harangody on the boards with the game on the line.

The 6-8, 255-pound senior was by no means as electric as he had been Wednesday, when he scored 20 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in the Irish's 68-56 second-round victory over Seton Hall. But last night he was efficient and effective, scoring seven points in 11 first-half minutes.

Surprisingly, it was Harangody who almost gave away the game. With the Irish (23-10) up by two, he was called for traveling with 1:08 left. But Harangody kept his cool and ultimately sealed the victory when he made two free throws with 15.9 seconds remaining to put Notre Dame ahead 49-45.

"Obviously, when I get that turnover, I'm very upset," Harangody said. "The team puts the ball in my hands in the game. I need to produce in that moment. It was just one of those things, you know, where it happens. And you have to go on to the next play. I didn't put my head down. I said, 'I'm going to make this up to my team.' "

Pittsburgh tried to regroup, but Travon Woodall's layup was blocked by Tim Abromaitis and Gilbert Brown and Jermaine Dixon missed desperation three-point shots in the final seconds.

"Just get a stop," said Notre Dame forward Tyrone Nash (eight points, six assists), who played for Lawrence Woodmere Academy. " . . . That's what we're usually concentrating on. We focused in, we got in the huddle and said, 'Let's get the stop and get this win.' "

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