A putback by Paul Atkinson Jr. with 1.4 seconds left in double overtime made the difference in a dramatic back-and-forth finish, as the No. 11 Notre Dame Fighting Irish survived 89-97 against the No. 11 Rutgers Scarlet Knights in the First Four in Dayton, Ohio.
Atkinson Jr. finished with 26 points on 13-15 shooting, and added six rebounds in 33 minutes as well. Both teams were abnormally efficient from the floor, with ND 37-72 from the field, and RU at 36-71.
Caleb McConnell was brilliant in defeat for the Scarlet Knights, finishing with 23 points on 10-12 shooting and 11 rebounds. Ron Harper Jr. added 22 points and four boards, but the lack of depth started to make a difference down the stretch in a terrific finish.
Harper Jr. made a three-pointer with 22 seconds remaining to tie the game at 87, and the Irish’s Blake Wesley’s driving layup went wanting with seconds remaining. But it fell to Atkinson Jr., who did what he had been doing all night and finishing at the rim.