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January 27, 2007
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. -Colin Falls scored 23 points, including four in the final 65 seconds, to lead 22nd-ranked Notre Dame to a 66-63 victory over Villanova on Saturday as the Fighting Irish improved to 15-0 at home this season.
Villanova (14-6, 3-4 Big East) had two chances to tie it in the final 18 seconds, but Reggie Redding missed an open 3-pointer and Curtis Sumpter also missed a 3. Sumpter threw up a length-of-the-court shot at the buzzer that was short and wide.
The Irish (17-4, 5-3) have won 17 in a row at home, dating to last season. The streak is the third-longest in school history. They won 24 straight from 1973-74 and 22 in a row from 1977-78.
The Wildcats led much of the game and went ahead 60-57 on a 3-pointer by Shane Clark with 3:47 left, but didn't make a shot from the field the rest of the way.
The Irish tied the score on a 3 by Ryan Ayers, who added a pair of free throws moments later to give Notre Dame a 62-60 lead.
Villanova had the ball, but Scottie Reynolds lost control and Luke Harangody dove for it. The ball popped free and Falls scored a fast-break basket. He added a pair of free throws with 38 seconds left to give the Irish a six-point lead.
The game was a sharp contrast to the teams' first meeting 10 days earlier, when they combined for 189 points. For a while Saturday it appeared they wouldn't combine for 100.
Villanova had 25 points at halftime - half as much as it did en route to its 102-87 victory over the Irish - but still held a four-point halftime lead as both teams struggled offensively.
The Wildcats shot just 27 percent while the Irish hit 29 percent in scoring their fewest points in a half this season. Notre Dame had 10 turnovers in the first half with just one assist. For the game, the Irish shot 35 percent and Villanova made 33 percent.
Most of the Irish players wrote the No. 23 on the back of their shoes in honor of former teammate Kyle McAlarney, who was suspended from school after his arrest on a marijuana possession charge last month. McAlarney plans to return to Notre Dame next season.
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