SOUTH BEND -- Notre Dame's Scott Martin chalked it up to experience.
The sixth-year senior figured with just a few seconds left and the 20th-ranked Fighting Irish leading by a point, Rutgers would drive inside and try to draw contact. So instead of guarding the outside shot, Martin headed for the basket and tried to help Jack Cooley as Eli Carter, Rutgers' leading scorer, drove to the basket.
"I was there waiting for him," Martin said.
The officials ruled it a charge on Carter -- even though Rutgers coach Mike Rice thought he was inside the arc -- and Notre Dame held on for a 69-66 victory Saturday night.
"They saw things different, completely different than I did," Rice said. "But it's a tough job being a referee in the Big East."
Carter said he wasn't sure whether Martin was inside the arc or not, saying he would have to look at the replay. But he didn't think he should have been called for the foul.
"I thought he was moving still," Carter said. "Like I said, it was a tough call. I just have to deal with it."
Rutgers used a 6-1 run late to close to 67-66 when Carter scored on a layup with 7 seconds left then forced a held ball on Eric Atkins two seconds later. Rice said Carter ran the play when he was called for the charge just as he wanted him to.
"Like in all Big East games, that's what you do. You create contact. You put pressure on the defense," he said.
Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said it was the kind of victory the Irish (15-3, 3-2 Big East) needed after losing two straight and avoided losing two straight at home for the first time in four seasons.
"We defended well and we defended at key times," he said. "Scott Martin taking that charge. He'd be the guy to make a play like that at the end."
Cooley had 19 points and 10 rebounds after not playing the final 11 minutes in a loss at St. John's on Tuesday and struggling at times against UConn. Pat Connaughton made four 3-pointers and added 17 points, Atkins had 14 points, including a pair of free throws to seal the victory.
The Irish, who were just 1 of 9 from 3-point range in a loss to St. John's on Tuesday, were 6 of 16 against Rutgers.
Myles Mack 3-point attempt at the buzzer missed as the Scarlet Knights (14-4, 3-3) lost for the ninth straight time at Notre Dame.
Carter led Rutgers with 20 points and Mack had 12 and Rutgers got 18 points from its bench.
Brey said it was the kind of victory the Irish needed.
"I told them it's going to be hard in this league. Things are going to be hard," he said. "To have to fight them off. We turned it over a little bit. We missed some free throws. But we've got to make some plays to steal the win. I hope that's something we can build on."
Notre Dame presented New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie with a check for $10,003 at a break in the first half for Hurricane Sandy relief efforts. The money was raised by auctioning off game-worn jerseys, tickets to upcoming games and other items.