Dion Harris wasn’t ready to say goodbye just yet.
“I’m just glad to be giving the seniors another opportunity to play in front of the home crowd and possibly (go) back to New York,” Harris said. “I’m just doing everything right now for the seniors, because they deserve it.”
The junior hit a 3-pointer as time expired in the second overtime to extend Michigan’s season and topple an upset-hungry Notre Dame team, 87-84 at Crisler Arena last night.
The Wolverines were unable to capitalize on their first two chances to close out the game. Buzzer-beaters failed at the end of both regulation and the first overtime.
“We had opportunities,” Michigan coach Tommy Amaker said. “Certainly, we had the possessions down the stretch to kind of come away with it, and we didn’t. I thought we had some really good looks and opportunities to win the game.”
After the two failed attempts, the third time proved to be a charm for the Wolverines.
Senior Daniel Horton dribbled the ball at the top of the key as the seconds ticked off as Amaker called for an isolation play. When Horton ran into a double team on the left elbow, he lobbed the ball to Harris, who was waiting at the top of the key. The Detroit native launched a fadeaway trey that founds its way through the hoop and sent Crisler Arena into a frenzy.
“I don’t think we’ve ever had a game like that since I’ve been here,” Harris said. “Double overtime, the crowd was great and we just kept fighting, no matter what happened . I think everybody had fun out there.”
The win brings Michigan (20-10) one game closer to Madison Square Garden, where the NIT’s Final Four is played. The lone obstacle is Miami, which defeated Creighton by one point last night. The Wolverines beat the Hurricanes by 21 during the regular season. The two teams will face off at 8 p.m. tomorrow night.
Early on in last night’s game, it appeared as if the Wolverines would not get a chance to play in the quarterfinals.
Notre Dame (16-14) led for almost all of regulation. After taking the lead two minutes into the game, the Irish held the advantage until just 13 seconds remained in the second half.
“They came out of the blocks early,” Amaker said. “Coming back and inching our way back in, possession by possession, helped make this a memorable evening.”
After Michigan slowly clawed back into the game, Horton provided the shot that looked like it would end the game in regulation.
With his team trailing by one, Amaker called a timeout and designed a play for the Cedar Hill, Texas, native to shoot a 3-pointer. With 14 seconds to go, Horton got free off a double screen and drained a trey from the right wing.
But Horton wasn’t the only senior guard on the floor playing to keep his career alive. Irish guard Chris Quinn did everything in his power to keep his season going, answering Michigan time after time with clutch shots. His baseline lay-in with five seconds left tied the game and sent it to overtime. He finished with a team-high 18 points and nine assists, playing in all 50 minutes of the game.
“He’s a crafty basketball player,” said Horton, who led all scorers with 29 points and also dished out eight assists. “It’s tough to guard him; he has really good size for a guard.”
Notre Dame’s swarming defense forced Michigan to settle for a Chris Hunter 3-point attempt at the end of the first overtime.
In all, four Wolverines scored in double figures, with Harris, Hunter and junior Lester Abram each giving 15 points to Michigan’s cause.
The team effort is what has brought the Wolverines a game away from a return trip to New York, just two years after they captured the NIT championship with a win over Rutgers.
“If we were to end the season the right way by winning another championship, it would mean the world to us,” Horton said.