Everything seemed to be going Conants way in its nonconference game against Notre Dame in Hoffman Estates on Saturday night.
At halftime, the Cougars led the highly rated Dons 19-16.
Solid defense, a patient offense and good shot selection were the norm for Conant. That didnt last, though.
Notre Dame came out in the second half with a swarming defense that led to turnovers and quick baskets in the Dons 46-32 win.
We did a great job in the first half, said Conant coach Tom McCormack who saw his team drop to 11-8 after winning 8 of their last 9 games. We did the right things that got us the lead. But in the second half they came out with pressure defense that forced turnovers. They pressured us and we panicked. They got points from our (7) turnovers in the quarter, and that was it. When they changed defenses we did not respond.
The Cougars went through a second-half stretch of 14:16 with just 3 points all by Robert Hudson, who finished with 7.
In the meantime, the Dons were cooking it up, hitting 8 of 11 third-quarter shots. Notre Dame (15-2) scored the first 14 points of the quarter to lead 28-19 before a Hudson free throw broke the run. Notre Dame ended the quarter up 33-20.
Notre Dames Eddie Serrano scored 6 of his 13 points in the run, and Air Force recruit Matt Mooney scored 5 of his 13 in the quarter too.
Mooney kept the Dons close in the first half, when he scored 8 points.
We lacked energy at the start of the game, said Mooney. We just werent playing our game. We pressed Conant early in the second half, which led to turnovers. Once we got some baskets our energy level picked up. At half time our coaches said to Wake up.
This was a game, said Notre Dame coach Tom Les, where you had to value every posession. We knew they were a good defenisve team. In the second half we got them to play to the tempo that we like. Were a team that is aggressive on both offense and defense.
The Dons agressiveness helped build a 46-22 lead with 1:56 left in the game before Conant scored the final 10 points of the game.
Matt Schimel scored 7 points, DAngelo McBride had 6 and Danny Sotos 5 for the Cougars.
Conant played without junior point guard Joey Ranallo who seperated his shoulder last Saturday and may be out for up to five weeks.