NEW YORK (AP) — Ricky Shields had never played beyond the first round of the Big East Tournament. The senior guard from Rutgers finally got that win last night and may have ended the NCAA hopes of Notre Dame.
“That was one of the goals I wanted to achieve before I left here,’’ he said. “I did not want it to end without that.’’
Shields scored 21 points, including the first four of Rutgers’s game-closing 8-0 run, and the Scarlet Knights beat Notre Dame 72-65.
The win advanced 11th-seeded Rutgers (10-18) to a matchup with third-seeded and 16th-ranked Syracuse (24-6) in the quarterfinals on Thursday night at Madison Square Garden.
“Now we get a chance to match up with Syracuse again,’’ Shields said referring to an 86-84 loss to the Orange in which the Scarlet Knights blew an 18-point halftime lead. “It feels good to have all five guys clicking like we did early in the year and maybe we can keep clicking here for some more wins.’’
The loss may have ended the NCAA tournament at-large hopes for Notre Dame (17-11), which has lost four of five.
“We’ll find out our fate on Sunday,’’ Irish coach Mike Brey said in ending talk about an at-large bid.
Shields scored on a drive with 1:15 left to give the Scarlet Knights the lead for good at 66-65. He then stole the ball from Colin Falls and went the length of the court for a layup with 57 seconds left.
Notre Dame, which took its last lead at 65-64 on a 3-pointer by Russell Carter with 1:37 to play, missed its last seven shots and had the turnover by Falls.
Rutgers closed the game by going 4-for-5 from the free-throw line.
“We needed two stops at the end. We just needed to make two stops,’’ Notre Dame guard Chris Thomas said.
Shields said it came down to Rutgers making the plays in the final minutes.
“I think our composure was supreme today,’’ Shields said. “We knew where we wanted to get the ball. I think in other games we were kind of second-guessing ourselves.’’