SOUTH BEND – Jack Cooley had 19 points, 10 rebounds and blocked a shot 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 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, but Cooley blocked the shot. Atkins then made a pair of free throws for the Irish (15-3, 3-2 Big East).
Myles Mack’s three-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 three-pointers and added 17 points, Atkins had 14 and Jerian Grant had 10 assists.
Carter led Rutgers with 20 points and Mack had 12 and Rutgers got 18 points from its bench.
The Irish opened the second half with a 10-4 spurt, opening a 48-35 lead when Connaughton hit a wide-open three from the corner, improving to 4 of 4 from behind the arc. Moments 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 three-point range in a loss to St. John’s on Tuesday, were 6 of 16 against Rutgers.
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.