NEWARK, Del. — For the first time since 2000, Mike Brey was on the sideline as a coach inside the Bob Carpenter Center.
Only this time, he was coaching against the Delaware Fightin’ Blue Hens. Brey and the ninth-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish were in town for a non-conference match-up in front of close to 5,000 fans in snowy Newark.
Brey led the Blue Hens to the NCAA Tournament in both 1998 and 1999, and is a member of the UD Athletics Hall of Fame. Fans were excited about his return to the sideline, regardless of what team he was coaching for, as he helped the team become a name on the national scale during his time as the head coach.
Delaware’s current head coach, Martin Ingelsby, was an assistant under Brey for 13 seasons after playing his senior year at Notre Dame for coach Brey in 2000-01. The two agreed to the game due to their long ties to one another, and it didn’t disappoint.
For the majority of the first half, Delaware put another scare into the Fighting Irish, who were coming off a loss to the Ball State Cardinals in their last outing. But, Notre Dame found their groove towards the end of the first frame, and pulled away in the second for the 92-68 win in Brey’s return to Newark.
Matt Farrell scored a game-high 24 points to go along with seven assists to pace the offense. Bonzie Colson recorded yet another double-double, posting 19 points and 12 rebounds to help lead Notre Dame to the win.
Colson has scored in double-figures in all 10 games for Notre Dame this season, and his consecutive streak is now at 27 games, dating back to last season.
T.J. Gibbs added 21 points, on 6-of-12 shooting, in the win.
For the Blue Hens, the duo of Kevin Anderson and Ryan Daly were at the forefront yet again. Anderson scored a season-high 23 points to go along with seven assists, while Daly added 15 points and five rebounds.
Daly opened the scoring for the Blue Hens with a layup in the opening minute, and the game was off. The teams traded baskets for the first eight-plus minutes on the night, before Anderson hit a three pointer with 11:23 to play in the half that gave Delaware a brief three point lead, at 14-11.
Notre Dame answered with six quick points of their own, four of which came from Martinas Geben, to retake a lead of their own. Again, Delaware had an answer, with Daly and Anderson pushing the home side ahead by two points with just over eight minutes before the break.
The Fighting Irish started to find their rhythm after that, and took over the game.
Six straight points from Gibbs pushed Notre Dame ahead by four, and they wouldn’t relinquish the lead the rest of the way.
Notre Dame stretched their lead to 11 at the break, as they took a 38-27 lead into the locker room. Considering how back-and-forth the first portion of the game was, the Fighting Irish were fortunate to have such a sizable lead after 20 minutes.
In the second half, Notre Dame scored the first five points of the frame, and they held Delaware off the scoreboard for over three minutes to kick things off. They were in their rhythm, and started to slowly stretch their lead as the half wore on.
A three pointer from Gibbs with 9:23 to play in the game gave the Fighting Irish a 22-point lead, at 63-41. The lead would grow to as many as 26 points, as Canadian Nikola Djogo hit a three pointer in the final minute to push Notre Dame over the 90-point mark.
In Brey’s return to Newark, Notre Dame came away with the 92-68 win over his former team on their home floor.
With the win, Brey now has 390 victories as the head coach at Notre Dame, putting him four wins away from setting the all-time record. The current record is 393, held by Digger Phelps.
The game marked just the second meeting between Notre Dame and Delaware in the all-time series. Notre Dame is now a perfect 2-0 against the Blue Hens.
As a team, Notre Dame shot 56.9% (33-of-58) from the floor, and 56.5% (13-of-23) from three point range in the win. They held Delaware to 39.1% (25-of-64) from the field.
With the win, Notre Dame (8-2, 0-0) improves to 5-1 in games away from Purcell Pavilion this season. They were able to bounce back from their loss to Ball State in a big way, but the road gets tougher from here. The Fighting Irish will take on the Indiana Hoosiers in the 2017 Crossroads Classic on December 16th, inside Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
The loss was the fourth straight for Delaware (4-6, 0-0). They will look to get back on track next Sunday, when they visit the Delaware State Hornets in an instate rivalry game.
– T. Bennett