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Notre Dame ousted by Iowa State for another early exit

IowState forward Georges Niang who had 19 points shoots over Notre Dame forward Jack Cooley first half. | Al Behrman~AP

Iowa State forward Georges Niang, who had 19 points, shoots over Notre Dame forward Jack Cooley in the first half. | Al Behrman~AP

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Updated: April 24, 2013 6:19AM

DAYTON, Ohio — Qualifying for the NCAA tournament hasn’t been a problem in recent years for Notre Dame.

Getting out of the first weekend alive has been the issue.

The seventh-seeded Irish suffered yet another early exit Friday, falling to No. 10 Iowa State 76-58 in a second-round West Region game at University of Dayton Arena.

“This is a hump we can’t get over yet,” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said, “but we’ll keep trying to figure it out.”

Turnovers. A long scoring drought. The inability to slow down the Cyclones’ offense. Take your pick. Each contributed to the loss.

This was Notre Dame’s fourth consecutive appearance in the tournament, the program’s longest streak since six straight trips from 1985 to 1990.

During this most recent run, Notre Dame has won only one tournament game. That came against Akron in the second round of the 2011 tournament at the United Center. Notre Dame was seeded second that season and lost to 10th-seeded Florida State in the third round. Notre Dame last reached a regional semifinal in 2003. Each of the last six tournament trips ended in the first weekend.

“That’s what keeps me up at night,” Brey said. “That’s what keeps me motivated. And that’s what’s very extremely disappointing about tonight. We’ll go back to the drawing board and try to figure it out.”

Ten continues to be an unlucky number for the Irish. This is the third straight time a 10th seed has ended Notre Dame’s season. This was the worst loss of the bunch, and the third-largest margin of defeat for Notre Dame in a tournament game.

Georges Niang led Iowa State with 19 points. Melvin Ejim added 17 points for the Cyclones (23-11), who advance to face No. 2 Ohio State on Sunday.

“It’s a hard one to swallow,” Brey said.

Tom Knight and Jack Cooley led Notre Dame (25-10) with 14 points.

The Irish had 17 turnovers, 14 in the first half. Notre Dame entered the game averaging 11.1 turnovers.

“It was just surprising, just the mental mistakes that we usually don’t make,” guard Jerian Grant said. “We picked the worst time to make them.”

Notre Dame had two field goals in the last 11:17 of the first half.

Iowa State, meanwhile, found balance in the paint and from outside. The Cyclones finished with nine three-pointers and 32 points in the paint.

The Cyclones built a 35-23 lead at halftime. Things didn’t get any better for Notre Dame after the break.

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