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Notre Dame doomed by late lane violation

Notre Dame’s Jack Cooley is trapped by Xavier’s Andre Walker Travis Taylor Friday. | Chuck Burton~ap

Notre Dame’s Jack Cooley is trapped by Xavier’s Andre Walker and Travis Taylor on Friday. | Chuck Burton~ap

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Updated: April 19, 2012 8:38AM

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Jack Cooley was cruising along, leading Notre Dame in a tight contest against No. 10 seed Xavier on Friday in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

But Cooley watched as things started to come apart for the seventh-seeded Fighting Irish when he was called for a lane violation on Eric Atkins’ first free throw attempt with 2.8 seconds to play and Xavier leading by two. The violation negated Atkins’ free throw and gave the ball to Xavier.

“I was thinking that someone had stepped in early or something,” Atkins said. “It just hurt that [the free throw] didn’t count at all.”

The Musketeers went on to beat Notre Dame 67-63 and will play 15th seed Lehigh in the third round Sunday. Lehigh upset No. 2 seed Duke 75-70.

“That was a veteran official who has had a lot of games, and I’ll watch the tape later,” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. “I guess we must have had a heck of an advantage there. But Mike Stuart has reffed a lot of games, and he’s one of the better officials around.”

Cooley shot 8-for-8 from the field and scored 18 points. He also had seven rebounds.

“It was Jerian [Grant] and Eric getting me the ball, and they were making great passes,” Cooley said. “Their penetration got me open, and they were all just going in.”

Xavier (22-12) took a 64-63 lead on Tu Holloway’s jumper. That set up Grant’s failed three-point attempt with 11 seconds to play. He finished with 11 points.

“It was just a ball screen, but they were in the zone and I took it,” Grant said. “I was shocked and in disbelief [at the lane violation]. You always hear you can’t call that at the end of the game. It hurts to lose on a call, but it hurts to end the game like that.”

Holloway’s basket proved to be the game-winner for the Musketeers.

Atkins predicted Thursday that the Irish had to stop Holloway and Mark Lyons if they were to have a chance of advancing.

“Props to [Holloway] because he had a helluva game,” Atkins said.

Holloway finished with a game-high 25 points on 10-for-15 shooting. The Irish defense did a little better job on Lyons, who finished with eight points.

Notre Dame (22-12) clung to a 33-31 lead at halftime but led by 10 at the 12:20 mark of the second half. Then Xavier went on a 9-0 spurt to cut the lead to one.

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