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Notre Dame rallies to beat Michigan

Notre Dame Fighting Irish forward Zach Auguste sinks

Notre Dame Fighting Irish forward Zach Auguste sinks a basket against the Michigan Wolverines during the first round of an East Regional men's basketball game in the NCAA Tournament at Barclays Center on Friday, March 18, 2016. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

The Notre Dame players could see it happening to them. In a day full of historic upsets, here was 11th-seeded Michigan leading them by 12 points at halftime, victimizing them from beyond the arc and stopping almost every attempt at an offensive rhythm.

“I think this was a lot like some of our really good wins,” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. “We almost have to have our lives flashing before our very eyes to dig in and defend.”

Sixth-seeded Notre Dame (22-11) shut down Michigan in the second half and earned a 70-63 victory behind a perfect shooting night from V.J. Beachem at a wild Barclays Center on Friday night, with the crowd of 17,502 more than doing justice to a (football) rivalry that spans the decades.

“It was unbelievable,” Matt Farrell said. “It was awesome to play in that atmosphere.”

Notre Dame will face 14th-seeded Stephen F. Austin in the second round tomorrow.

Beachem, who shot 7-for-7, scored 18 points, including five straight in a pivotal stretch beginning with 3:34 left in the game, and Zach Auguste added 10 points and 12 rebounds. Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman led Michigan with 15 points. The Irish outscored Michigan 41-22 in the second half.

Down 41-29 at the break, Notre Dame began the second half by scoring eight straight points, a stretch that ended with back-to-back baseline three-pointers by Steve Vasturia and Farrell. That — along with the switch to a man-to-man defense — was the start of a 14-5 run that drew Notre Dame to within 46-43. Matt Ryan’s three-pointer with 12:18 left tied it at 48. The score was tied again at 51, 56, and 59 before Beachem’s 5-0 run — a long-range three-pointer and a jumper — gave the Irish its largest lead of the game at that point: four points.

“I just tried to step up and knock down the shots,” Beachem said. “Matt Farrell (four assists) told me before the game that he was going to find me . . . and he did.”

The Wolverines (23-13), who defeated Tulsa in a play-in game on Wednesday, shot 7-for-14 in the first half but went cold after that, ending up 10-for-27. Notre Dame shot 58 percent, and “you can’t give up 58 percent at the NCAA Tournament and expect to win,” Michigan coach John Beilein said.

“It was a dogfight. Who was going to make the last couple shots was going to win the game, and we shouldn’t have put ourselves in that situation.”

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