SAN DIEGO – Cormac Ryan scored a career-high 29 points, including seven 3-pointers, and 11th-seeded Notre Dame recovered from a grueling First Four win and late-night flight to beat sixth-seeded Alabama 78-64 on Friday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Ryan, a senior guard, was 10 of 13 from the field and made a career-best seven of his nine tries from beyond the arc for Notre Dame (24-10), which beat Rutgers in double overtime Wednesday night in Dayton, Ohio, to earn a trip to San Diego.
Blake Wesley had 18 points while Paul Atkinson Jr. added 13 points and eight rebounds. The Fighting Irish missed six of their first seven shots but went 28 of 47 the rest of the way.
Keon Ellis led Alabama (19-14) with 16 points and Jaden Shackelford scored 13. Junior guard Jahvon Quinerly suffered a left knee injury early in the game and did not return. His knee was in an immobilizing brace when he came back to the Crimson Tide bench.
Notre Dame will play Texas Tech Sunday in the second round of the West Region. The third-seeded Red Raiders breezed to a 97-62 victory over Montana State earlier Friday.
The Irish had a 41-36 advantage at halftime. Alabama scored six straight points early in the second half to get within 44-42 before Notre Dame pulled away with a 17-5 run. Ryan and Wesley each had six points during the spurt and Atkinson added five.
Notre Dame’s largest lead was 76-60 with under two minutes remaining.
Neither team led by more than four points the first 18 minutes before Notre Dame scored nine straight points to grab a 41-33 advantage with 40 seconds left in the first half. Nate Laszewski had the first five points during the run, including a layup to give the Irish the lead. Juwan Gary hit a 3-pointer to draw Alabama within five points at halftime.
Quinerly was driving to the basket when his knee appeared to buckle three minutes into the game. The junior guard was moaning in pain as he was clutching his knee while being looked at by trainers. He was then taken to the locker room without putting much weight on his left leg.
Quinerly is second on the Crimson Tide in scoring, averaging 13.8 points.
Notre Dame: The Irish made 10 3-pointers, the sixth time in the past 11 games they’ve reached double digits in 3s.
Alabama: The Tide made consecutive NCAA appearances for the first time since 2006 but ended their season with four straight losses.