The newly ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish are now 9-0 on the season after taking care of the Fort Wayne Mastodons Tuesday night, 87-72.
This is the best start under Head Coach Mike Brey, and the 4th best in program history.
The Irish have had an impressive start to the season, winning the Legends Classic after taking down the Northwestern Wildcats and Colorado Buffaloes on consecutive nights, and recently scoring a win over the Iowa Hawkeyes by 14 points.
Sunday marked the first time this season the Irish have been ranked in the AP top 25, coming in at #23.
Fort Wayne proposed an interesting challenge to the red hot Irish, as the Mastodons were 7-2 coming into the game. Their most impressive win came against the then-3rd ranked Indiana Hoosiers.
While it would be hard for the Irish to not look ahead at their matchup Saturday against the #1 ranked Villanova Wildcats, Notre Dame could not afford to take Fort Wayne lightly.
The Irish led the Mastodons consistently through out the entire first half, stretching their lead little by little and eventually walking into the locker room with a comfortable 18 point lead.
Notre Dame looked to put the game away in similar fashion from their last game, leading by 27 points with under 12 minutes to go in the game.
However, with the Irish up 79-60, Fort Wayne would go on a 12-2 run to reduce the deficit to nine points.
Fort Wayne would not score again for the rest of the game as the Irish would go on to win 87-72.
Steve Vasturia led the Irish in scoring Tuesday night, showing his presence in the paint, recording 21 points, four boards, two assists, one steal and going a perfect 8-8 from the charity stripe.
VJ Beachem’s 14 point performance marks the 15th consecutive time in which the senior captain has recorded a double-digit scoring game. He also grabbed a season high eight rebounds, recorded one steal and blocked two shots.
Bonzie Colson recorded his sixth straight double-double, proving why he is the reigning ACC Player of the Week, scoring 17 points and grabbing 14 rebounds. Colson was five assists away from recording his first triple double, but was perfect from the free throw line and went an impressive 3-5 from beyond the arc.
Point guard Matt Farrell also joined the three Irish captains in scoring in double figures, while also dishing out six assists, recording one steal and going 4-4 from the free throw line.
Sophomore Rex Pflueger did his part coming off the bench, playing 29 minutes and scoring 9 points.
The Irish now rank #1 in free throw percentage per ESPN, and went 20-23 (87%) from the line against the Mastodons.
All eyes will be on Notre Dame this Saturday as the Irish travel back to Brooklyn to take on #1 Villanova in a neutral site matchup. This will be the Irish’s toughest matchup before conference play starts up in the new year, and will be a good indication on how dangerous the Irish can be.
“We’re excited, our guys were talking about it two minutes after the game, they’re really excited” stated coach Mike Brey in his post game press conference.
Saturday’s matchup will air at 12 PM ET on CBS.
– R. Scarfone