Just like that... Irish season ends short of Sweet 16

Bernard James scored 14 points, Michael Snaer added 13 and Florida State showed there's more to its game than defense with a 71-57 upset of second-seeded Notre Dame on Sunday night that put the Seminoles in the regional semifinals for the first time since 1993.

For Notre Dame, meanwhile, it was another disappointing showing in the NCAA tournament. Ben Hansbrough scored 18 on 5-of-13 shooting before fouling out with 3:19 left.

It's really tough. It's really tough," The Big East player of the Year said after the game. "Especially with how hard we worked throughout the year.

"But sometimes you just have to step back and look at the bigger picture. This team came a long way. We were the only ones that believed we could be where we are right now. No one ever thought we'd even make it this far."

The loss means Hansbrough's career at Notre Dame is now over.

"It means a lot playing with this group of guys and for coach Brey," Hansbrough continued. "Getting my degree from Notre Dame--it's the been the best thing in my life, probably ever. And it was the best decision of my life to transfer here."

And while Hansbrough was in the Irish program for three years after a transfer from Mississippi State, Ty Nash leaves with the most wins in any player in Irish basketball history.

"It sucks that there is no tomorrow," a distraught Nash said after the game in the Irish locker room. "No more lacing the shoes up, no more wearing the Irish, No more running out of the tunnel, no more huddling up with the guys.

"It's all over man. And that's the worst feeling. College Basketball is over for me."

And for coach Mike Brey, just short again--missing out on his 2nd trip to the Sweet 16 in 11 years at Notre Dame.

We were disappointed and numb that we couldn't get to Saturday night in New York and we couldn't get further here," Brey said. "It's a fact of life. Someone wanted me to frame the whole season and I didn't want to have a banquet tonight. I can't do that. We're disappointed."

No one felt more numb than Scott Martin--literally. Back spasms plagued him from the start---preventing him from contributing much of anything all night.

"It's terrible. It's hard," an emotional Martin said. "I tried it. I did everything I could. They shot me up. I was hurting us more than I was helping us so it wasn't smart for me to be out there."

Martin played just 17 minutes and did not score a single point. He was just part of the uphill battle the Irish faced.

"It was like managing a crisis all night," Brey explained. "They're banging down 3's. Martin goes down--is he back--where are we at? You put your finger in one hole and a dike in another one plugged in and they're too good, too good."

It was an impressive effort by the 10th-seeded Seminoles, who had four players in double figures and were 9 of 19 from 3-point range.

Florida State (23-10) now faces upstart Virginia Commonwealth in the Southwest regional semifinals Friday in San Antonio. The 11th-seeded Rams, maligned as not worthy of being in the 68-team field, stunned third-seeded Purdue earlier Sunday for their third win in five nights.


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