SOUTH BEND, IN. — Coming off of a demoralizing loss to the third-ranked team in the country on Thursday, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish added another “W” to the win column Sunday afternoon, as they defeated the St. Francis (Brooklyn) Terriers, 71-53.
While the Terriers are not the flashiest opponent, the game brought plenty of excitement, as Notre Dame Head Coach Mike Brey and Bonzie Colson were tossed from the game with six minutes left in the second half.
Sunday afternoon’s game marked the first time in 23 years that Mike Brey has ever been thrown out from a game.
The ejections did not concern the Irish one bit, as they handled the Terriers with ease towards the end. But, what should concern the Irish is the fact that the bench continued to under perform, even against an opponent like St. Francis.
The Fighting Irish and the Terriers started the game neck-and-neck, exchanging baskets with Notre Dame trailing by one, six minutes into the game.
But, that lead did not last long, as Notre Dame got into their offensive rhythm, going on a 22-6 run during the last eight minutes of the half to go into the locker room up 43-25.
Martinas Geben and Colson both had good starts to the game, dropping 10 points and five rebounds each, while Rex Pflueger, Matt Farrell, and D.J. Harvey all had six points.
Notre Dame shot better from the field in the first half than they did against Michigan State, going 16-for-29 (55.2%), but continued to struggle from three point range. Matt Farrell went 0-for-4 in the first half, and eventually missed four more shots to end his streak of 31 straight games with a made three pointer.
St. Francis struggled from the field, shooting 29.6% in the first half, but shot 31% from beyond the arc.
The second half got off to a slow start, which involved long stretches of no scoring from both Notre Dame and St. Francis.
The real action happened with six minutes left in the game as Colson came down with an impressive offensive rebound but then unintentionally elbowed a player on St. Francis as a result of twisting his body rapidly to protect the ball from being stolen.
Ultimately, it was decided by the officials that Colson’s foul was a flagrant two foul, and was then thrown out. Colson walked out with dignity and class; no words to the officials, no antics, no attempts to charge at the referees; just high-fived his teammates and walked out.
Shortly after, Mike Brey found himself following Colson’s foot steps into the locker room. Brey’s thoughts on the Bonzie ejection to the officials weren’t very welcomed, and his ejection led to Notre Dame’s Associate Head Coach Rod Balanis to step in for the remainder of the game.
Regardless of the loss of their best player and their head coach, Notre Dame finished strong, notching a 71-53 win over St. Francis Brooklyn.
Notre Dame had five players record double digit figures, led by Geben who finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds after only scoring four points in the second half. Colson added only three more points to his 10 first half points before being ejected. Colson also had three blocks and was one rebound shy of a double-double.
Matt Farrell finished with 12 points, four assists, and three rebounds after a very poor shooting night from the senior point guard, while D.J. Harvey and T.J. Gibbs both added 10 points.
The Terriers were led by three players who all recorded 10 points and three plus rebounds (D.J. Porter, Jalen Jordan, and Rasheem Dunn), and got extensive production from their bench who contributed more than half of the team’s 53 points.
Notre Dame, on the other hand, did not get the same production from their bench. Aside from the 10 points that Harvey recorded, the rest of the Fighting Irish benched scored a combined four points.
While Harvey received good minutes and contributed a fair share to the offense, Elijah Burns, John Mooney and Austin Torres still did not see much floor time.
If the Irish can’t get good production out of their bench against a small school like St. Francis, what makes anybody believe they will against a team in the ACC?
The Fighting Irish have five more non-conference games to get players comfortable playing before the competition gets considerably tougher.
Notre Dame does not get much time to rest, as the Fighting Irish will host the Ball State Cardinals inside Purcell Pavilion on Tuesday December 4th, 2017 at 7:00 PM EST. The game will be broadcast live on the ACC ESPN Network.
– R. Scarfone