SOUTH BEND, In. — In the final non-conference game of the year, and the final game before the holidays, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish came out victorious against the Southeastern Louisiana Lions, 86-50.
This was the 392nd victory for Notre Dame Head Coach Mike Brey, who is now only two wins away from passing Digger Phelps for the most in program history.
Notre Dame and Southeastern Louisiana met for the first time on Thursday night, with the Irish now claiming the lone victory in the series. The Irish showed defensive dominance throughout the whole game, forcing 16 turnovers, while giving up only six themselves.
Let’s take a look at how this played out.
The Fighting Irish started the game off with a 6-0 run and were in the driver’s seat for majority of the first half. Leading by as much at 13 in the opening half, Notre Dame shot over 30% from both the field and three point range; not the best considering how well we’ve seen Notre Dame shoot the ball.
Southeastern Louisiana managed to come back, bringing the score within four thanks to a Jordan Capps layup with just over three minutes to go in the opening half. The Irish scored four more points to extend their lead to eight as the first half ended, with the score 37-29.
As the second half got under way, it was all gas for the Irish, and the Lions could never keep up or catch up. Notre Dame went on an 18-0 run and led by 26 points with just under 13 minutes left.
One interesting stat worth noting is that while it was predicted that Notre Dame would dominate on the boards, the Fighting Irish only out-rebounded the Lions by four, at 47-43. In fact, on a team where the tallest player is only 6’8”, the Lions grabbed more offensive rebounds (13) than the Irish (10).
Notre Dame went on to win this contest, 86-50, sending the players off for holidays with a win.
Considering the struggles the Irish have been facing, a win certainly sends the Irish into conference play on a positive note. In a video tweeted by the Notre Dame Basketball twitter account, Mike Brey said to his team “get some rest, and then when we come back on the 26th, we gotta start hitting level 5”.
With the competition about to increase in difficulty, Notre Dame needs to learn from their non-conference slate and be ready to compete, because things are not going to get any easier.
Looking at the box score for both teams, Jordan Capps of Southeastern Louisiana was the lone Lions player to score in double digits, finishing with 17 points, whereas the Irish had four players post double figures.
T.J. Gibbs led the way in scoring, dropping 18 points and grabbing five rebounds and dishing five assists. He went cold from beyond the three point line, going 0-for-6.
Rex Pflueger and Matt Farrell each scored 17 points in the win. Bonzie Colson and Martinas Geben each grabbed 10 boards, with Colson scoring 16 and Geben scoring six.
The Irish are off until the 26th, when they will return to South Bend for practice to get ready for their ACC home opener against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, on December 30th. Tip off is set for 2 PM EST, broadcasting live on ESPNU.
– R. Scarfone