Irish withstand Rutgers rally

Photo Courtesy USA TODAY SPORTS

Notre Dame holds on to beat Rutgers, 69-66 at the Purcell Pavilion Saturday night.

SOUTH BEND -- Jack Cooley had 19 points, 10 rebounds and Scott Martin drew a charge with 2 seconds left to help No. 20 Notre Dame hang on for a 69-66 win over Rutgers on Saturday night, ending a two-game losing streak for the Fighting Irish.

Rutgers used a 6-1 run late to close to 67-66 when Eli Carter scored on a layup with 7 seconds left then forced a held ball on Eric Atkins two seconds later. Carter drove inside for the layup and Cooley blocked the shot, but officials called a charge before that, giving the Irish the ball back. Atkins then made a pair of free throws for the Irish (15-3, 3-2 Big East).

Myles Mack 3-point attempt at the buzzer missed as the Scarlet Knights (14-4, 3-3) lost for the ninth straight time at Notre Dame.

Pat Connaughton made four 3-pointers and added 17 points, Atkins had 14 and Jerian Grant had 10 assists. Cooley, who didn't play the final 11 minutes in a loss at St. John's on Tuesday and struggled at times against UConn, came up big when the Irish needed him.

Carter led Rutgers with 20 points and Mack had 12 and Rutgers got 18 points from its bench.

Cooley, who didn't play the final 11 minutes in a loss at St. John's on Tuesday and struggled at times against UConn, came up big when the Irish needed him.

The Irish opened the second half with a 10-4 spurt, opening a 48-35 lead when Connaughton hit a wide-open 3 from the corner, improving to 4-of-4 from behind the arc. Moment later, though, Rutgers answered with an 11-2 run as the Scarlet Knights forced four turnovers on five Notre Dame possessions, with Kadeem Jack getting two steals and Irish freshman Cameron Biedscheid losing the ball twice.

Rutgers narrowed the lead to 52-48 on a jumper by Eli Carter. Rutgers later cut the lead to 56-53 on a three-point play by Mack when he stole the ball from Atkins and scored on a layup and free throw. But a dunk by Connaughton and a pair of free throws by Scott Martin ended the run by Rutgers.

The Irish, who were just 1-of-9 from 3-point range in a loss to St. John's on Tuesday, were 6-of-16 against Rutgers.

A rebound basket by Connaughton at the buzzer gave the Irish a 38-31 halftime lead. It marked the fourth time in the half the Irish scored just before the shot clock expired. The Rutgers defense also forced a shot clock violation. Connaughton also hit a pair of 3-pointers during a 10-2 run that gave the Irish a 29-20 lead. The Knight quickly answered with a 6-0 run to close the lead to three points.

Notre Dame presented New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie with a check for $10,003 at a break in the first half for Hurricane Sandy relief efforts. The money was raised by auctioning off game-worn jerseys, tickets to upcoming games and other items.

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Notre Dame grinds out a three-point win over scrappy Rutgers Saturday night at the Purcell Pavilion.…

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