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Notre Dame holds off Pitt to reach Big East semis

So much for higher seeds and double byes.

Notre Dame outworked and outshined second-seeded No. 2 Pittsburgh last night, defeating the Panthers, 50-45, to advance to today's Big East semifinals against either third-seeded West Virginia or 11th-seeded Cincinnati.

Luke Harangody and Tony Jackson scored 12 points apiece for the seventh-seeded Irish, 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, thanks to Brad Wanamaker and Jermaine Dixon's hustle inside the paint.

Pittsburgh cut its deficit to 47-45 on 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 electric the way he had been Wednesday, scoring 20 points and grabbing 10 rebounds in the Irish's 68-56 second-round victory over Seton Hall. But last night he was efficient and effective. He scored 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 and 1:08 left, he was called for traveling. But Harangody kept his cool and ultimately sealed the victory when he made two made free throws with 15.9 seconds remaining to put Notre Dame in front 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 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 at 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.'"

Pittsburgh was the third higher seed bounced from the tournament Thursday. "So much for the double byes, huh?" joked Notre Dame coach Mike Brey.

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