Senior Dan Fotu scored a career-high 22 points and hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 49 seconds remaining as Saint Mary's recorded a 62-59 victory over Notre Dame in the first round of the Maui Invitational on Monday night in Las Vegas.
The Gaels (5-0) are off to their best start since 2017-18 and will face Oregon on Tuesday in the winners bracket. Notre Dame (2-1) will face Chaminade in the losers bracket.
After two free throws by Trey Wertz put Notre Dame up 58-57 with 1:16 left, Fotu drove the lane before against Notre Dame's Paul Atkinson Jr. After encountering Atkinson's tough defense, Fotu kicked it out to Tommy Kuhse.
Kushe drove the lane and spotted Fotu open near the left corner. After getting the pass, Fotu calmly sank the 3-pointer as Atkinson was late to rotate over.
Fotu's clutch 3-pointer capped a night on which he shot 8 of 9 from the floor, including 3 of 3 from behind the arc.
After Fotu's trey, Notre Dame's Cormac Ryan split a pair at the line to make it 60-59 with seven seconds left. Kushe hit two free throws to put the Gaels up 62-59 with four seconds left. The game ended when Ryan missed a 3-point try over two defenders at the buzzer.
Kuhse added 14 points for Saint Mary's, which shot 48.9 percent from the floor and made 8 of 15 3-point attempts.
Ryan led the Fighting Irish with 16 points. Atkinson added 11 of his 13 in the second half for Notre Dame, which shot 38.9 percent and misfired on 12 of 18 3-point tries. Dane Goodwin chipped in 10, but Prentiss Hubb was held to six points on 1-of-7 shooting from the floor.
A competitive first half ended in a 31-31 deadlock after Ryan's jumper with eight seconds left capped a 7-0 run for Notre Dame. Before the Fighting Irish evened the game, Saint Mary's scored the game's first seven points and ripped off 10 straight points to take a 31-24 lead on two free throws by Fotu with 3:56 remaining.
Saint Mary's made five straight shots and went up 50-47 on a 3-pointer by Augustas Marciulionis with 9:29 remaining in the second half.
Notre Dame took a 56-54 lead with 3:31 left on Atkinson's hook shot. Fotu's layup with 2:58 to go forged a 56-56 deadlock, and the Gaels held a 57-56 lead after a free throw by Logan Johnson with 1:57 to go.
--Field Level Media