Chicago, IL – For the first time in Head Coach Mike Brey‘s tenure at Notre Dame, the Fighting Irish opened their basketball season on the road against the DePaul Blue Demons, beating their former Big East opponent, 72-58.
This was the 107th meeting between these two former Big East foes, with Notre Dame leading the all time series, 62-44.
Today’s game was a big one for DePaul, not just because they got an opportunity to take on #14 Notre Dame, but because they were opening their new 10,000 seat arena. In a big step for their basketball program, the new Wintrust Arena will be the new home for DePaul basketball, bringing them closer to the city of Chicago.
In front of a loud and hostile crowd, Notre Dame struck first, going on a 5-0 run. The Fighting Irish led the entire first half, besides a tie game at four minutes left in the frame.
Bonzie Colson quickly broke the tie, as the senior made a jumper to put the Irish up 24-22.
As predicted, the first half between the Irish and the Blue Demons was close, with Notre Dame’s largest lead being just eight points. The two teams went into the locker with Notre Dame leading 29-25, after both went scoreless for the remaining minute.
Notre Dame shot 39.3% from field goal range in the first half, while DePaul shot a mediocre 28.1%.
The second half got off to a slow start, with DePaul opening up the scoring three minutes into the frame.
Shortly after, rising sophomore T.J. Gibbs got things rolling for the Irish, as he hit a three pointer to put the Irish up 34-30. The Irish would make their next seven three pointers, going 9-12 (75%) in the second half after going 3-15 in the first half.
Gibbs had himself a day, looking very lean, quick, and athletic, finishing with a career high 21 points, three assists and two boards. Gibbs went 7-11 from the field, and 4-7 from the three point line, possibly emerging as Notre Dame’s go-to shooter.
Notre Dame started to run away with the game after back-to-back-to-back three pointers by D.J. Harvey, Matt Farrell, and Gibbs.
The Fighting Irish went on to seal the deal, 72-58, starting their 2017-18 campaign in good fashion. Notre Dame has now gone 18-0 in season openers under Brey.
Bonzie Colson recorded yet another double-double, scoring 18 points and grabbing 13 total rebounds. Colson struggled a bit in the paint, throwing up some low percentage shots, but used his lack of size to his advantage, as he drew out some fouls in order to get himself to the line.
Matt Farrell was solid, scoring 15 points, but coughed up four turnovers in addition to Rex Pflueger‘s three, who recorded only three points but grabbed nine boards.
There were a lot of good things to take away from this game. Notre Dame’s offence looked in sync and potent as ever. They were patient and didn’t try to force it inside to Colson, but rather let the play unfold.
They were a little weak on the defensive side, but cleaned it up as the game went on and should improve as the season progresses. Notre Dame still seems to be a great shooting team and will need to maintain it if Mike Brey chooses to go to a four guard system like he did at times.
Notre Dame will be back in action on Monday, November 13th, as they welcome the Mount St. Mary’s Mountaineers to the Purcell Pavilion. Tip-off is set for 7:00 PM EST.
– R. Scarfone