SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Notre Dame shut Villanova down from 3-point range, and then the Fighting Irish beat the Wildcats by making their own long-range shots.
The Irish held Villanova to 3-of-11 shooting from 3-point range, while the Irish were 9 of 21. Freshman Cameron Biedscheid scored a season-high 18 points, including going 5 of 7 from 3-point range, to lead Notre Dame to the 65-60 victory Wednesday night.
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The plan by the Irish (17-4, 5-3 Big East) to focus on shutting down the Wildcats from outside worked.
"It was a matter of our big guys helping our guards over the top," Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. "We got into enough of an offensive rhythm to get some separation."
Villanova coach Jay Wright said the Wildcats (13-8, 4-4) were hurt by their inability to score inside.
"It's a chess match. They let us go to Daniel Ochefu inside; they just let him go. We have to make a decision. Do we go to him and let him try to score, or not? If he had started scoring, they would have adjusted. But he had trouble scoring inside."
Ochefu was 2 of 8 shooting for five points.
Brey said the Irish decided to focus on shutting down the Wildcats outside after Villanova used 3-point shooting to beat Louisville and Syracuse in back-to-back games last week. Villanova had no answer when Biedscheid started hitting 3-pointers.
"Once he gets going, it's almost ruthless," said Jack Cooley, who added 17 points and 16 rebounds for the Irish.
Brey said Biedscheid apologized to him after going 0 of 8 from the field, including 0 of 5 from 3-point range, in a 16-point loss at home to Georgetown last week. Brey told Biedscheid to keep shooting if he had a good shot.
"I just told him, don't worry about it. Just keep taking good shots. As long as you keep taking good shots, we're going to be all right," he said.
Biedscheid scored in double figures in a Big East game for the first time to spark the Irish, who had lost two of three at home. He scored six straight on his own early in the second half to give the Irish a 35-34 lead. Biedscheid was fouled by Ryan Arcidiacono on a 3-point attempt and made all three free throws. He added a 3-pointer on Notre Dame's next possession.
Moments later, after Villanova opened a three-point lead on a three-point play by Pinkston, Cooley answered with a slam dunk and Biedscheid hit a 3 from the corner to give the Irish a 41-39 lead. The dunk by Cooley ended the streak of nearly 13 minutes without a 2-point basket by the Irish.
"Well, you better be playing defense if that happens," Brey said.
Later, JayVaughn Pinkston hit a jumper as the shot clock expired to cut Notre Dame's lead to 44-43. When Ryan Arcidiacono answered with a 3, Biedscheid responded with another trey to make it 50-46. The Irish also got some help from little-used Zach Auguste, who hit back-to-back baskets inside to give Notre Dame a 54-48 lead.
A three-point play by Mouphtaou Yarou, who led Villanova with 20 points, cut the lead to 54-51. But the Irish quickly answered with a 15-foot jumper by Tom Knight, who scored 10, and a 3-pointer by Jerian Grant to open a 59-51 lead. Villanova never got closer than three points down again.
"We've got to rotate better and take away the 3-point shot," Yarou said.
Biedscheid said he never lost confidence in his shot.
"One bad game doesn't make you a bad player, and one good game doesn't make you a great player," he said.
Darrun Hilliard added 14 points for Villanova and Pinkston had 11.
Wright said he was pleased with his team's effort, but he added that winning two tough games at home and then losing to Notre Dame shows the Wildcats are an average team.
"But I think we're getting better, I do," he said. "This group never quits."