In the end, after 50 minutes of nail-bitting basketball, No. 1 De Paul joined so many other top-ranked teams of the past, buried in the debris created by 11,345 celebrants in Notre Dame's Atheletic and Convocation Center.
"Twenty-five and one" was the rallying cry for the Irish tonight and that was De Paul's record at the finish, Notre Dame hanging on in the second overtime, 76-74.
Three times De Paul's Clyde Bradshaw shot at the buzzer and three times he missed. On each of the first two, the Blue Demons received another five-minute chance. On the third, two points behind, their unbeaten gambol at the top of the polls was over.
"If we're going to lose to anybody hey, I went to school here," said De Paul Coach Ray Myer, a two-time captain of the basketball Irish in the '30s. "I didn't ask to be No. 1 and if they vote us out, I'll send out a wire to the next guy. He can have No. 1."
Notre Dame's Digger Phelps, who incited the crowd to deafening noise before his team came out and wove the tactical program that eventually prevailed, met Meyer afterward and said, "I'm sorry."
"It was a great ball game and if we'd played one more overtime maybe De Paul would have won," Phelps said. "For me personally -- I told Ray at the end I was sorry we had to beat them. He and Marge are great people and they've done a lot for college basketball. But when the game starts it's anybody's game."
This confrontation was still anybody's game after 47 1/2 minutes, with the score tied at 74-74. Then it came down to the 6-foot-9 giants: two wearings No. 32, junior Orlando Woolridge of Notre Dame and freshman Terry Cummings of De Paul.
De Paul set up Cummings for an open jumper, but he missed with 1:50 to play and Woolridge grabbed the rebound. At the other end, after the Irish had worked the clock down to 19 seconds, Woolridge cut around Cummings and the Demon grabbed him.
It was Cummings' fifth personal foul and Woolridge made both chances to put the Irish in front, 76-74.
De Paul took a timeout and had ample time to set up a good play, but Notre Dame's defense was too tough, Finally; Jim Mitchem, a poor outside shooter, threw up a long one with three seconds remaining and missed. Bradshaw grabbed the rebound, but he missed, too, and it was over, both the marathon game and De Paul's streak.
Mark Aguirre, De Paul's brilliant sophomore forward, and Kelly Tripuka, Notre Dame's fine junior, nullified each other offensively by scoring 28 points apiece. But it took a sagging expertly designed zone defense to close down Aguirre's production.
Offensively, the Irish wound up with their forwards handling the ball outside and their guards invading the baseline, to try to reduce the ballstealing capabilities of Bradshaw and Skip Dillard. Bradshaw had 14 points and five steals, putting De Paul in front with thefts in both overtime perioids.
Notre Dame led by eight points after 4 1/2 minutes and De Paul by nine early in the second half. But each time a team spurted in front, it was quickly betrayed by key mistakes.
"We made some freshman mistakes at the end that cost us the game," Meyer said, "but I'm not going to hang my head and I don't want my players to hang their heads. We've come a long way with some young fellows out there."
Two free throws by Paint Branch High product Tracy Jackson pulled Notre Dame even at 64 with 1:08 left in regulation time. With De Paul playing for a last shot, freshman Teddy Grubbs threw the ball away. Then Notre Dame's Bill Hanzlik traveled a moment before he sank a shot with eight seconds on the clock. Bradshaw hit the rim at the buzzer.
Rich Branning, playing his last game in the Athletic and Convention Center, hit a baseline jumper with five seconds left in the first overtime to create a deadlock at 70. Brawshaw, throwing up a shot from midcourt, crashed into Tripucka afterward and Notre Dame wanted a one-and-one, but the foul came after the buzzer.
Lee (20 points) and Worthen then took control and Worthen sank a 10-foot bank shot with three minutes to play to put Marquette ahead to stay, 76-74.