SOUTH BEND, In. — The Notre Dame Fighting Irish bounced back from their over time loss to the Indiana Hoosiers by beating the Dartmouth Big Green on Tuesday night, 97-87.
Notre Dame is now 6-0 in their all-time series against Dartmouth, and has improved to 9-3 on the season.
The Fighting Irish have had a rough past few games. They have recently been kicked out of the AP Top 25 and are struggling to find their identity. The struggles continued for the Irish, but it seems every team that plays Notre Dame gives a little more effort than normal.
If you read the preview for this game, you would notice that I mentioned that this game should not have been close.
Dartmouth did not possess the size or the talent to handle Notre Dame and did not have players that have put up consistent eye catching stat lines.
But against a struggling Notre Dame team, one that is desperate to find a new spark and a new identity, the Big Green started off the game strong, keeping up with the Irish behind a strong shooting performance from both the field and the three point line.
The Big Green shot 50% from the field and 53% from three point line, keeping them close with the Irish throughout the first half.
Notre Dame went on a quick 11-0 run towards the end of the first half, looking to go into the locker room with a comfortable lead. But Dartmouth answered, highlighted by a last second three by Aaryn Rai to send both teams in the locker room with the score at 46-39.
Rai had 11 points in the first half, while the rest of the starters only contributed two to five points. The bench was having a good night thus far, contributing almost half of the teams total 39 first half points.
This is not to say Notre Dame had a bad half. The Fighting Irish shot 55% from the field, shot 83% from the charity stripe, and had two players in double digit figures (Bonzie Colson, 16 points, 7 rebounds; Matt Farrell, 13 points).
Regardless of the momentum that Rai sent his team in with at half time, it didn’t translate right away in the second half as Notre Dame came out swinging, building up a 16 point lead eight minutes in.
However, the shooting clinic eventually resurfaced, as Dartmouth answered most of Notre Dame’s scores and even went on a 18-5 run to put the Irish on upset alert.
Notre Dame seemed to be in trouble again, especially to a team who is 3-5 on the season, with all of their losses coming against smaller schools.
But Colson had something to say about that. The pre-season All-American hit a crucial three, followed by a steal and a dunk to give Notre Dame some life towards the end; just as the Big Green started to make a comeback.
Colson had a career night, dropping 37 points, grabbing 11 boards, dishing one assist, and recording three steals and two blocks.
Notre Dame went on to seal the deal, 97-87, against a Dartmouth team, that while some say should have been a blow out, gave the Irish a run for their money.
Dartmouth had five guys that contributed double digit scoring figures highlighted by Brendan Barry‘s 10 point, 12 assists and five rebound game. The Big Green also got great production from their bench, highlighted by Chris Knight‘s 14 points.
The same can’t be said about Notre Dame’s bench who only contributed three total points all night, but the starters were reliable as always.
In addition to Bonzie’s career night, Matt Farrell added 22 points and six assists, Rex Pflueger and Martinas Geben each added 13 points and a combined 15 rebounds, and T.J. Gibbs contributed nine points.
Notre Dame will be back on the court Thursday night, where they will end their non-conference slate against the Southeastern Louisiana Lions. Tip-off is set for 7 PM EST, broadcasting on the ACC/ESPN Network.
– R. Scarfone