The Notre Dame Fighting Irish opened the 2016-17 season at home with an 89-64 win against the Bryant Bulldogs on Saturday afternoon.
Notre Dame took an early 13-4 lead to start the first half before Bryant took over, reeling off a 15-2 run of their own to take a 19-15 lead.
As quick as they fell behind, Notre Dame responded. Thanks to VJ Beachem’s personal 7-0 run, the Irish regained a slim three-point lead.
After going into half-time with a comfortable double-digit lead, at 43-31, the Irish came out in the second half looking to but more space between themselves and Bryant.
Early on in the half, Notre Dame outscored the Bulldogs 20-6, putting Bryant in a hole that they wouldn’t be able to come back from.
The Irish sealed the deal en route to their first win of the season.
Notre Dame did not miss a beat despite starting two new players in junior point guard Matt Farrell and junior forward Martinas Geben, and shot just under 50% from the field (49.2%) while only hitting 3-16 shots from 3-point range. The Irish were outstanding from the foul line going 26-29 (89.7%).
Following the game, Head Coach Mike Brey stated that he loved what his team did from the free throw line, and thinks they can be near the top of the list nationally, in terms of free throw shooting.
Farrell recorded six of the Irish’s 15 assists and three steals, while Geben only recorded four points but came down with seven rebounds.
Junior forward Bonzie Colson and senior captain VJ Beachem were the stars of today’s matchup, with Colson recording 23 points, and Beachem chipping in with 22 points of his own.
Colson finished the game one rebound away from recording his first double double of the season. Steve Vasturia also had a strong showing, playing 31 minutes and scoring 16 points.
Beachem showed he is more than just a 3-point shooter, as the senior was active in taking the ball to the hoop and went 7-7 from the free throw line.
Following the pre-draft process, the big piece of feedback that Beachem heard from NBA scouts was that he needed to get to the hoop and be more active in the paint. If game one is any indication, he listened, as he put in a lot of work over the summer to improve that aspect of his game.
Notre Dame won the turnover battle, with only giving up three possessions and forcing 13 against the Bulldogs. The Irish recorded nine steals while blocking six shots.
Notre Dame saw the debuts of redshirt freshman Elijah Burns, who played six minutes and recorded five points, as well as true freshmen John Mooney and Temple Gibbs.
Mooney only played four minutes and recorded two rebounds and one assist, while Gibbs played 18 minutes, scoring five points, recording two assists and one steal.
Irish head coach Mike Brey is now 17-0 in season openers.
The 1-0 Irish will now turn their attention to the Seattle Univ. Redhawks, whom the Fighting Irish will host in South Bend, IN on Wednesday November 16th at 7 PM.