PITTSBURGH — Jerian Grant and Jack Cooley scored 13 points each and No. 25 Notre Dame overcome a horrendous shooting start and beat No. 20 Pittsburgh 51-42 on Monday night.
The Irish missed 18 of their first 19 shots and trailed 19-3 as late as 13:54 into the game. However, they rallied to take the lead in the second half and won going away.
Eric Atkins added 10 points and seven assists for Notre Dame (21-6, 9-5 Big East), which has won five in a row over Pittsburgh (20-7, 8-6) and snapped a tie with the Panthers for fourth place in the conference. The top four teams get a double-bye in next month's league tournament.
Tray Woodall had 11 points to lead the Panthers, who lost for the second time in three days since winning seven of eight.
The Irish missed their first 12 shots and did not have a field goal until 9:14 had elapsed in the game and they were trailing 11-1.
The drought continued for another 4 minutes until a technical foul called on Irish coach Mike Brey swung the momentum – in a big way.
After Woodall made the resultant free throws to give the Panthers a 19-3 lead, Notre Dame closed out the first half on a 16-3 run.
The spurt began with Pat Connaughton's 3-pointer from the left corner with 6:06 left in the first half. Thirty-five seconds later on the Irish's next possession, Connaughton hit another 3, drawing a timeout from Pitt coach Jamie Dixon and an enthusiastic fist pump from Brey as he sprinted onto the court.
Notre Dame appeared to feed off that, making five of its final eight shots of the first half.
Panthers forward Lamar Patterson – the team's scoring leader during Big East play – had the first basket after halftime, his only points of the game. Steven Adams' layup followed to give Pitt a 26-19 lead.
But Brey called another timeout – and it again led to a momentum shift. The Irish scored 12 of the next 14 points to take their first lead since 1-0.
Grant's 3-pointer bounced on the rim twice and in to give Notre Dame a 29-28 lead, and the Irish went up by three when Cooley tipped in a rebound of a miss by Grant less than a minute later.
Baskets by Cameron Wright and James Robinson gave Pitt a 32-31 lead with 12 minutes remaining.
Robinson missed a 3 nearly a minute later, and Atkins' layup on the ensuing possession put Notre back ahead – and started a 12-2 run that put the Irish ahead 43-34 with 4:48 to go – and they never trailed again.
Notre Dame shot 60.7 percent (17 for 28) after missing 18 of its first 19 shots and limited Pitt to 30-percent shooting (9 for 30) over the final 27 minutes of the game. The Irish improved to 4-1 against ranked teams.
With a game-high nine rebounds, Cooley narrowly missed out on his seventh straight double-double. He had three of Notre Dame's 13 offensive rebounds, and the Irish held a 40-25 advantage on the boards overall.
Pitt was without freshman forward Durand Johnson, who had a stomach virus.