Monday, December 2, 2013

GAME RECAPS: Notre Dame 101 Cornell 67





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SOUTH BEND -- Drifting through another game without making much of an impact as he did twice late last month was not an option Sunday for Notre Dame junior swingman Pat Connaughton.
The Irish co-captain is too key a guy to take just three shots like he did the previous time out against Army or grab only four rebounds as he did the game before that against Santa Clara.
For the Irish to maximize this college basketball season, Connaughton needs to be active and engaged from the jump as he works his way into doing a little of everything.
Like against Cornell at Purcell Pavilion.
Back to his hard-working and hustling ways, Connaughton registered his third career double-double for points (18) and rebounds (10) and tied his season high with five assists in a 101-67 victory.
“In order to be successful, in order to help this team out, I need to start being more aggressive on the offensive end,” said Connaughton, who finished 7-of-13 from the floor. “It’s something I’ve always done but something I haven’t been doing the last few years.
“It’s something I focused on and something I look to improve going forward.”
Conversations between Connaughton and Irish coach Mike Brey regarding his previous two games were brief. Brey insisted a five-second chat was about all No. 24 required to understand that more from him is needed.
“That’s how he’s practiced,” Brey said. “It’s great to see him play that way.”
“I’ve got to be better,” Connaughton said. “It starts on whatever end you want it to start on. It’s something I had to focus on and go back to the way I play.
“It’s something last weekend kind of woke me up to.”
Thanks to the season’s third lineup switch, Connaughton started as the team’s second big man. He also jumped at the chance of teammate Garrick Sherman’s offer to jump center. At 6-foot-5, Connaughton easily won the tip from Cornell’s Deion Giddens, who stands 6-10.
“I can jump,” said Connaughton, who jumped center for the first time since high school. “You’re looking at the dunk champion of our squad. These guys know I can jump.”
Notre Dame set a season high for points by again being unbelievably efficient and spreading it around to a host of able scorers. Six Irish hit for double figures, including a game-high 20 by senior guard Jerian Grant, who reached a historic milestone.
Knowing he needed 20 points to become the 55th player in school history — and second this season — to hit for 1,000 in his career, Grant refused to force any issue. He didn’t attempt a shot until just over nine minutes remained in the first half. Once he started shooting, he seldom missed and finished 8-of-10 from the floor.
A drive and free throw with 7:18 remaining in a lopsided second half allowed Grant — who still has a year of eligibility if he chooses — to get to an even 1,000.
“I knew eventually the ball was going to come to me,” Grant said. “I knew as long as I kept playing hard, kept running the floor, we were going to get going.”
The Irish also had 28 assists to only five turnovers. The home team turned it over just once in a second half that saw it score 60 points, shoot 62.2 percent from the field and 61.5 percent from 3.
There seemingly was no better way to feel good about Tuesday’s trek to No. 23 Iowa (7-1) than for the Irish (5-1) to play this well after a week away from game action.
“Our efficiency’s pretty good,” Brey said. “We’ll take that.”
Sunday also saw Brey take the training wheels off former Marian standout Demetrius Jackson. He made his first collegiate start and delivered 11 points, four assists and two rebounds in a career-high 27 minutes.
Starting Jackson first entered Brey’s thought process following the Nov. 22 victory over Santa Clara. Jackson was part of a group that helped bust that game open with its energy. The week away from game action allowed Brey to take a long look at starting Jackson. He liked enough of what he saw to go with the former McDonald’s All-American in a group that likely starts again Tuesdayin Iowa City in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
“I liked that lineup for stretches in previous games and I liked it in practice,” Brey said. “He really has been getting better and better since the Santa Clara game so we felt we’d go that way.”
Jackson learned Friday that he would be in the starting lineup.
“I just wanted to go out and do exactly what I did coming off the bench and better,” he said. “I didn’t have any nerves. That’s all credit to my teammates and coaches helping me become more and more comfortable.
“It was great to start. It was very cool.”
Going small didn’t necessarily produce a solid start. Though the Irish led by as many as 37, they allowed the Big Red to score the first eight points. A 10-0 run allowed the Irish to regain a lead they wouldn’t relinquish and subsequent 22-4 run put this one away quickly.
“We got great looks early, couldn’t make any of them,” said Brey, whose team started 0-for-5 from the floor. “The one thing I was hoping with that group is it would give us a better start.
“I think I’ve got to give them another chance at that Tuesday night.”
Jackson’s former Marian High School teammate, Cornell sophomore guard Robert Mischler, returned home to play for the first time in his collegiate career. Mischler set up in the corner nearest the Big Red bench in the game’s closing minute and connected on his only shot — a 3-pointer — for the day’s final basket.
“I just got a good, clean look,” said Mischler, who has three 3’s for nine points this season. “I just knocked it down.”
Nolan Cressler led Cornell (0-9) with 17 points.
At Purcell Pavilion
CORNELL (0-9): Dwight Tarwater 4-6 0-0 10, Deion Giddens 1-3 0-0 2, Nolan Cressler 6-15 3-4 17, Robert Hatter 6-12 2-4 15, Devin Cherry 2-6 2-2 7, David Onuorah 0-2 0-0 0, Darryl Smith 0-1 0-0 0, Dave LaMore 2-2 0-1 4, Desmond Fleming 0-0 0-0 0, Dominick Scelfo 1-5 0-0 3, Jake Matthews 2-4 0-2 4, Robert Mischler 1-1 0-0 3, Jojo Fallas 0-0 0-0 0, Montez Blair 0-1 0-0 0, Ned Tomic 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 26-59 7-13 67.
NOTRE DAME (5-1): Garrick Sherman 4-9 4-4 12, Eric Atkins 7-16 2-2 19, Jerian Grant 8-10 2-2 20, Demetrius Jackson 3-6 2-2 11, Pat Connaughton 7-13 1-1 18, V.J. Beachem 1-2 0-0 2, Austin Burgett 1-1 0-0 2, Tom Knight 2-4 0-0 4, Zach Auguste 4-8 2-5 10, Steve Vasturia 1-1 0-0 3. Totals 38-70 13-16 101.
Halftime — Notre Dame 41-32. 3-Point Goals — Cornell 8-21 (Tarwater 2-3, Cressler 2-5, Mischler 1-1, Hatter 1-3, Cherry 1-3, Scelfo 1-4, Matthews 0-2), Notre Dame 12-25 (Jackson 3-4, Atkins 3-8, Connaughton 3-8, Grant 2-3, Vasturia 1-1, Beachem 0-1). Fouled Out — None. Rebounds — Cornell 27 (Cressler 9), Notre Dame 43 (Connaughton 10). Assists — Cornell 15 (Hatter 6), Notre Dame 28 (Atkins 6). Total Fouls — Cornell 15, Notre Dame 12. A — 8,636.


Box Score

Box Score (PDF)

SOUTH BEND, Ind. – Notre Dame pulled away from Cornell in the second half, keeping Cornell winless on the season with a 101-67 victory on Sunday afternoon at the Joyce Center. The Fighting Irish improved to 5-1, while Cornell slipped to 0-9.

Nolan Cressler scored 17 points and matched a career-high with nine rebounds and Robert Hatter had 15 points and a career-best six assists, but the Fighting Irish hit five straight 3-pointers early in the second half to take control of the game. The Fighting Irish shot 54 percent from the floor overall and connected on 12-of-25 from 3-point range, assisting on 28 of its 38 baskets with just five turnovers.

Dwight Tarwater chipped in 10 points and four rebounds for the Big Red, which hit on 44 percent of its shots from the field. Devin Cherry had seven points and two assists. In a return to his home state, Robert Mischler buried a 3-pointer for the final points of the game, earning a loud ovation from both sides of the arena in the Hoosier state.

Notre Dame had six players hit for double figures, including Jerian Grant with 20 points and Eric Athliks with 19 points, six rebounds, six assists, three steals and no turnovers. Pat Connaughton had 18, Garrick Sherman scored 12 and Demetrius Jackson, a high school teammate of Mischler, rounded out the group with 11 points.Cornell came roaring out of the gates with eight quick points, including five from Cressler to momentarily quiet the Joyce Center crowd. It didn't last long, as the Fighting Irish rattled off 10 straight to take a lead it would never relinquish.

The Big Red kept the Fighting Irish within reach the rest of the half. UND extended its lead to as many as 14, but Cressler hit a floater and then found Tarwater in the corner for an open trey to get back within 41-32. Cornell trailed by nine at the break despite 12 points and five rebounds by Cressler. The home team shot 46 percent and got 12 points from Connaughton.

The first 10 minutes of the second half saw Cornell come out hot, scoring 23 points and hitting on 10 of its first 14 shots (71 percent) but watched Notre Dame's lead grow from nine to 13 points. The home team would cruise from there, scoring 60 points after halftime and shooting 62 percent from the floor. Notre Dame also hit 8-of-13 from 3-point range in the second half to continue to stretch the lead.

Cornell returns home to face Saint Francis (Pa.) on Saturday, Dec. 7 at 4 p.m. The Big Red leads the all-time series 4-3, including last season's 79-67 win in Loretto, Pa.


Who would have ever thought two Marian High School graduates would be squaring off in a Division I College basketball game at Notre Dame.

That was the case Sunday afternoon as Notre Dame freshman Demetrius Jackson squared off with Cornell sophomore Robert Mischler.

Mischler and Cornell made the 12-hour bus ride from upstate New York with Mischler hosting his teammates for dinner on Saturday night.

While Jackson was making his first career start at Notre Dame, Mischler saw limited action. But when he checked in with 4:00 left in the 1st half--it was the two Marian grads guarding each other.

"It reminded me of the days of open gym in high school," Jackson said. "Very cool to guard Robert. He's a very good player and I've very happy for him."

"It was something I'll never forget," Mischler explained. "I always dreamed about playing at the Joyce Center when I was a kid growing up and playing alongside Demetrius and guarding him for just a little bit was definitely something special."

Mischler even hit a 3-pointer in the final seconds of the game to cap off the day.

We'll have a special feature on the battle of the Marian boys on NewsCenter 16 at 6 on Monday.






SOUTH BEND, IND. — As Notre Dame coach Mike Brey continues to tinker with his lineup early in the season, he decided Sunday to go small and see what he got.

Brey inserted freshman Demetrius Jackson into the lineup to give the Fighting Irish three guards to go with guard/forward Pat Connaughton and center Garrick Sherman. That lineup responded with Notre Dame’s highest scoring game this season, a 101-67 rout of Cornell at Purcell Pavilion.

Jerian Grant scored 20 points to reach 1,000 for his career, Eric Atkins added 19 points and Connaughton had 18 points and 10 rebounds as all five Irish starters reached double figures.

“We just wanted to start a different way,” Brey said. “I’ve liked that lineup in stretches in previous games, and I liked it in practice.

“I’m still searching.”

Nolan Cressler scored 17 points and Robert Hatter had 15 to pace Cornell, which has lost 15 in a row dating to last season, one away from tying the school record longest losing streak of 16, set in the 1972-73 season.

The Big Red, which won 29 games and advanced to the Sweet 16 in 2010, is 0-9 for the first time since 1904-05.

After starting the game 2-for-10, Notre Dame (5-1) found the range, shooting over 62 percent from the field in the second half. The Irish also had 28 assists against five turnovers.

“With the new starting lineup we have, we’re going to score a lot more points and be on the fastbreak a lot more,” Grant said. “And defensively, I think it helps us a lot with us four being able to press full-court a little bit.”

Grant knocked down a pair of 3-pointers early in the second half as Notre Dame hit four in a row from deep, but Hatter kept the Big Red within striking distance. Hatter scored Cornell’s first six points of the second half and continually found room in the lane, forcing Notre Dame coach Mike Brey to switch to a zone defense.

Cornell missed its next three field goals, and a 3-pointer and conventional three-point play by Connaughton started a 17-2 run that pushed Notre Dame’s lead to 25 points with 6:26 to play.

“Notre Dame’s a very, very good offensive team, we’re not a great defensive team, so when you put those two things together, it ends up in a 30-some plus margin of victory,” said Cornell coach Bill Courtney. “They came out and hit that barrage of 3s, and whatever it seems we did, they countered it.”

Cornell, which finished 8 of 21 from the arc, hit its first two 3-pointers and scored the game’s first eight points before the Irish got it going. Notre Dame scored the next 10 points, and went on a 22-4 run to go up by 10 with 8:39 to play in the first half. Cornell hit 1 of 11 shots during that nine-minute stretch.


Dec. 01, 2013

NOTRE DAME, Ind. (AP) - Jerian Grant scored 20 points to reach 1,000 for his career in leading Notre Dame to a 101-67 win Sunday over Cornell at Purcell Pavilion.
Eric Atkins added 19 points and Pat Connaughton had 18 as all five Irish starters reached double figures.
Nolan Cressler scored 17 points and Robert Hatter had 15 to pace Cornell, which has now lost 15 in a row dating back to last season, one away from tying the school record longest losing streak of 16, set in the 1972-73 season.
The Big Red, which won 29 games and advanced to the Sweet 16 in 2010, is 0-9 for the first time since 1904-05, when it started 0-10.
After starting the game 2-for-10, Notre Dame (5-1) found the range and finished with its highest point total of the season. The Irish broke the 100-point mark for the first time since its 5-overtime upset of Louisville last season.
Grant knocked down a pair of 3-pointers early in the second half as Notre Dame hit four in a row from deep, but Hatter kept the Big Red within striking distance. Hatter scored Cornell's first six points of the second half and continually found room in the lane, forcing Notre Dame coach Mike Brey to switch to a zone defense.
Cornell missed its next three field goals and a 3-pointer. A three-point play by Connaughton started a 17-2 run that pushed Notre Dame's lead to 25 points with 6:26 to play.
Cornell went 4:29 without a field goal during that run. Grant's three-point play with 7:18 remaining got him to the 1,000-point mark.
Freshman guard Demetrius Jackson earned his first career start as the Irish went with a three-guard lineup against the perimeter-oriented Big Red, who average just over 26 3-point attempts per game.
Cornell, which finished 8 of 21 from the arc, hit its first two 3-pointers and scored the game's first eight points before the Irish got it going. Notre Dame scored the next 10 points, and went on a 22-4 run to go up by 10 with 8:39 to play in the first half. Cornell hit just 1 of 11 shots, including seven straight misses, during that nine-minute stretch.
Notre Dame's biggest first-half lead was 14 points, and Connaughton finished the half with 12.


SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Jerian Grant scored 20 points to reach 1,000 for his career in leading Notre Dame to a 101-67 win Sunday over Cornell at Purcell Pavilion.
Eric Atkins added 19 points and Pat Connaughton had 18 as all five Irish starters reached double figures.
Nolan Cressler scored 17 points and Robert Hatter had 15 to pace Cornell, which has now lost 15 in a row dating back to last season, one away from tying the school record longest losing streak of 16, set in the 1972-73 season.
The Big Red, which won 29 games and advanced to the Sweet 16 in 2010, is 0-9 for the first time since 1904-05, when it started 0-10.
After starting the game 2-for-10, Notre Dame (5-1) found the range and finished with its highest point total of the season. The Irish broke the 100-point mark for the first time since its 5-overtime upset of Louisville last season.
Grant knocked down a pair of 3-pointers early in the second half as Notre Dame hit four in a row from deep, but Hatter kept the Big Red within striking distance. Hatter scored Cornell's first six points of the second half and continually found room in the lane, forcing Notre Dame coach Mike Brey to switch to a zone defense.
Cornell missed its next three field goals and a 3-pointer. A three-point play by Connaughton started a 17-2 run that pushed Notre Dame's lead to 25 points with 6:26 to play.
Cornell went 4:29 without a field goal during that run. Grant's three-point play with 7:18 remaining got him to the 1,000-point mark.
Freshman guard Demetrius Jackson earned his first career start as the Irish went with a three-guard lineup against the perimeter-oriented Big Red, who average just over 26 3-point attempts per game.
Cornell, which finished 8 of 21 from the arc, hit its first two 3-pointers and scored the game's first eight points before the Irish got it going. Notre Dame scored the next 10 points, and went on a 22-4 run to go up by 10 with 8:39 to play in the first half. Cornell hit just 1 of 11 shots, including seven straight misses, during that nine-minute stretch.
Notre Dame's biggest first-half lead was 14 points, and Connaughton finished the half with 12.


NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Two days before Notre Dame's first road game and biggest test of the young season, Irish head coach Mike Brey tried his third starting lineup in as many games. With freshman guard Demetrius Jackson injected into the starting five, Notre Dame overcame an 8-0 opening deficit to never trail again, topping Cornell 101-67 on Sunday.
Jackson replaced sophomore forward Austin Burgett -- who replaced senior forward Tom Knight a week ago -- to give Notre Dame (5-1) a four-guard look, with 6-foot-5 Pat Connaughton jumping for the opening tip, and winning by sending it toward Jackson.
"I liked that lineup in stretches in previous games, I liked it in practice," Brey said. "A lot of different guys are playing. I'm still searching, still kind of searching who's where, who's what. I told them after the game, in Iowa City on Tuesday, who knows who finishes. I have no idea."
Brey may continue to tinker with his rotation, but he did allow he expects to use the same starting five at Iowa on Tuesday. After falling behind 8-0 due to missing their first five shots, the Irish starters rolled off 10 quick points, kick-started by a three from Jackson.
"It was just a cool feeling to start. There's no difference in that the goals are still the same: come in, provide energy and play hard," said the Mishawaka native, who finished with 11 points, including 3-of-4 from beyond the arc. "Just do whatever I did to get me there and to be consistent with my play and to be aggressive."
Once Notre Dame snapped out of its opening cold streak, it hardly looked back. After making 4-of-12 attempts from beyond the arc in the first half, the Irish shot 8-of-13 from deep in the second period. Cornell, meanwhile, regressed from a 5-of-11 first half performance to a 3-of-10 showing in the second.
Even though Notre Dame played a four-guard lineup for long stretches, the Irish did not simply rely on hot shooting -- outrebounding the Big Red by 16 and scoring 50 points in the paint -- with Connaughton leading the way with 10 rebounds, as well as 18 points. In two games last weekend, the junior pseudo-forward took seven shots in two games. Against Cornell, he hoisted 13 shots.
"It's something that his past week coach has been harping on me for," Connaughton said. "It's something they said they needed me to do, be more aggressive, and it's something that I've done my whole life.
"It's something I kind of needed to sit down and realize this is a role on the team that I'm expected of this year and it'll help jump-start our team."
Senior guards Jerian Grant and Eric Atkins chipped in 20 and 19 points, respectively, with Grant finishing the day with exactly 1,000 points in his career. Atkins reached the milestone in Notre Dame's sole loss, on Nov. 17 to Indiana State.
"It's exciting for me, being in that elite group," said Grant, the 55th player in Irish history to reach the mark. "Knowing that I'm in the record books here at Notre Dame."
Cornell sophomore Robert Mischler -- a Mishawaka native and high school teammate of Jackson -- sank the game's final shot, a 3 in front of Cornell's bench.
The Irish will tip off at Iowa at 9:15 Tuesday in Notre Dame's first appearance in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.


SOUTH BEND, Ind. — As Notre Dame coach Mike Brey continues to tinker with his lineup early in the season, he decided Sunday to go small and see what he got.
Brey inserted freshman Demetrius Jackson into the lineup to give the Fighting Irish three guards to go with guard/forward Pat Connaughton and center Garrick Sherman. That lineup responded with Notre Dame's highest scoring game this season, a 101-67 rout of Cornell at Purcell Pavilion.
Jerian Grant scored 20 points to reach 1,000 for his career, Eric Atkins added 19 points and Connaughton had 18 points and 10 rebounds as all five Irish starters reached double figures.
BOX SCORE: Notre Dame 101, Cornell 67
"We just wanted to start a different way," Brey said. "I've liked that lineup in stretches in previous games, and I liked it in practice.
"I'm still searching."
Despite the success his guard-heavy group had against Cornell, nothing is set in stone. With a trip to face No. 23 Iowa in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge on Tuesday, Brey still isn't sure which lineup will be on the floor at any given time.
"I told them after the game, 'You know, in Iowa City on Tuesday, who knows who finishes? I have no idea, so all ten of you be ready,'" Brey said.
Nolan Cressler scored 17 points and Robert Hatter had 15 to pace Cornell, which has now lost 15 in a row dating back to last season, one away from tying the school record longest losing streak of 16, set in the 1972-73 season.
The Big Red, which won 29 games and advanced to the Sweet 16 in 2010, is 0-9 for the first time since 1904-05, when it started 0-10.
After starting the game 2-for-10, Notre Dame (5-1) found the range, shooting over 62 percent from the field in the second half. The Irish also had 28 assists against just five turnovers, and broke the 100-point mark for the first time since its 5-overtime upset of Louisville last season.
"With the new starting lineup we have, we're going to score a lot more points and be on the fastbreak a lot more," Grant said. "And defensively, I think it helps us a lot with us four being able to press full-court a little bit."
Grant knocked down a pair of 3-pointers early in the second half as Notre Dame hit four in a row from deep, but Hatter kept the Big Red within striking distance. Hatter scored Cornell's first six points of the second half and continually found room in the lane, forcing Notre Dame coach Mike Brey to switch to a zone defense.
Cornell missed its next three field goals, and a 3-pointer and conventional three-point play by Connaughton started a 17-2 run that pushed Notre Dame's lead to 25 points with 6:26 to play.
Cornell went 4:29 without a field goal during that run.
"Notre Dame's a very, very good offensive team, we're not a great defensive team, so when you put those two things together, it ends up in a 30-some plus margin of victory," said Cornell coach Bill Courtney. "They came out and hit that barrage of 3s, and whatever it seems we did, they countered it."
Grant's three-point play with 7:18 remaining got him to the 1,000-point mark, making him the 55th Irish player to accomplish that.
"It feels good," Grant said. "It's an elite group of people, 50-some people, so just to be able to be in that group is exciting."
Cornell, which finished 8 of 21 from the arc, hit its first two 3-pointers and scored the game's first eight points before the Irish got it going. Notre Dame scored the next 10 points, and went on a 22-4 run to go up by 10 with 8:39 to play in the first half. Cornell hit just 1 of 11 shots, including seven straight misses, during that nine-minute stretch.
"At first, starting out 8-0, it didn't look like it was working out too well. But we finally got it clicking a little bit," Atkins said. "We can really get out and run. As soon as a team misses, I feel like we're down the court now in a few seconds. We can really space the floor, so it gives us a lot of open jump shots and driving lanes."
Notre Dame's biggest first-half lead was 14 points, and Connaughton finished the half with 12.

Head coach Mike Brey’s team blistered the nets for 60 second-half points while shooting 62 percent both from the field and beyond the arc. Junior guard Pat Connaughton tallied 18 points, grabbed 10 rebounds (his third career double-double) and handed out five assists in the rout, while senior Jerian Grant became the 55th Notre Dame player to reach the 1,000-career points club with his team-high 20 points.
Brey has encouraged Connaughton to become much more aggressive on offense, both with jumpers and drives.
“I just thought he was fabulous tonight,” said Brey, in a postgame interview with und.com’s Jack Nolan, of the 6-5 wing who also is a Major League Baseball pitching prospect. “He’s flat-out our best rebounder. …It was positive tonight to have him feel good in a game scoring the ball. He’s done it in practice. We need him to hunt his shot.”
Freshman Demetrius Jackson, making his first career start, tallied 11 points, highlighted by three-of-four shooting from three-point range, and had four assists to just one turnover in 27 minutes. Senior Eric Atkins was even more efficient with 19 points, six assists and no turnovers.
“He is slowly becoming another strong voice even as a freshman, and then starting today endorses that,” Brey told Nolan, regarding Jackson. “We want his voice. Those older guys love playing with him. He gave us really good energy, some big-time drives at the right time … we just want him to get more confident. One of the reasons we started the game with him is there’s an energy that he brings that is contagious with his teammates.”
Rounding out the double-figure scorers were senior center Garrick Sherman (12 points, six rebounds, four assists) and sophomore big man Zach Auguste (10 points, nine rebounds). Notre Dame had 28 assists on 38 baskets while committing only five turnovers.
The Irish used a “four-around-one” look that Brey has often excelled with during his 14 seasons at Notre Dame. Sherman was the low-post player surrounded by the perimeter quartet of Grant, Atkins, Jackson and Connaughton. That’s been the most efficient lineup so far, according to the Irish head coach, and it also was utilized to combat Cornell’s forte, three-point shooting.
For a winless team, Cornell provided a quick wake-up call to Notre Dame. The Big Red jumped to an 8-0 lead before the Irish settled into a rhythm. In its opener this year, Cornell built a 14-point lead at Syracuse and led by six at halftime before losing 82-60. The Irish didn’t take as long to get it in gear, but Cornell was scrappy through the first 25 minutes before Notre Dame gradually gained separation.
Connaughton sparked the early comeback, first with a three to give Notre Dame its initial lead at 10-8, another trey about a minute later, and then a steal and dunk to provide a 16-12 cushion en route to a 41-32 halftime lead.
Early in the second half, Notre Dame drilled four consecutive threes, two by Grant, and then Jackson and Atkins to extend the lead to 60-46.
Next up for the Irish is a marquee matchup at Iowa on Tuesday night in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. Last year’s NIT runner-up, the Hawkeyes under former Irish assistant Fran McCaffrey are ranked No. 23 and have been pointing to this season as a breakout season nationally.


Notre Dame made 65% of its shots in the first 15 minutes of the second half to turn a nine point halftime lead into a 101-67 rout of the Cornell Big Red on Sunday.

Pat Connaughton led the way with 18 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 assists. Jerian Grant led all scorers with 20 points, and Eric Atkins added 19 points and 6 assists. The Irish turned a 16-21 halftime rebounding deficit into a 43-27 advantage by the end of the game.

We needed this,” Connaughton said after the game. “That Indiana State game has been eating at us. We needed to play well going into the Iowa game.”

Nolan Cressler led the Big Red with 17 points, 12 in the first half, and 9 rebounds. Robert Hatter added 15 points, many of them in the lane with a nice floater that he used to score over bigger men.

The Irish started slowly, missing their first six shots while Cornell made a pair of three point baskets and a fast break layup to take an early 8-0 lead. Surprise starter Demetrius Jackson got ND off the schneid with a three, and the Irish started a run. A pair of fast break baskets and a Connaughton three, assisted by Eric Atkins, gave ND a 10-8 lead at the first media timeout.

Head Coach Mike Brey started a small lineup – Connaughton, Grant, Atkins, and Jackson with Garrick Sherman in the post. The team learned about it during practice two days ago. “We had a practice, and coach didn’t like the energy level,” said Grant. “Coach told us that Demetrius would start. Instead of him coming off the bench and giving us energy, he was going to start and give us energy.”

“We just wanted to start a different way,” Brey said. “I liked it (the lineup) in stretches in previous games, and I liked it in practice. He has been getting better and better since the Santa Clara game, so we felt we’d go that way. We got some great looks early and didn’t make them.”

The run continued after the teams traded baskets. Connaughton stole the ball and took it the length of the floor for a dunk. Auguste took the ball to the basket, drew a foul, and split a pair of free throws; and grant took the queue to take the ball to the basket himself. His three point play made the score 20-12 in favor of the Irish. Sherman made a pair of free throws to extend the Notre Dame lead to 10 before the Big Red’s Devin Cherry answered with a three.

Cornell was not ready to surrender. The Irish continued to attack the basket earning layup baskets for Tom Knight, Grant, and Connaughton. The Big Red got answers from Cherry, Cressler, Dominick Scelfo, and Jake Matthews to stay in the game at 32-23 when the final media timeout of the first half came. Basket trading continued to a 41-32 halftime score.

Connaughton and Cressler shared halftime scoring honors with 12 points each. Both Atkins and Grant added seven points. Once again, Irish fans’ rebounding concerns were affirmed as Cornell had a 21-16 rebounding edge. The Irish limited turnovers, another early season problem, to just four; and they assisted 10 of their 15 first half baskets.

The game clinching run began eight minutes into the second half. After several interior defensive lapses, Brey returned to the small lineup; and the Irish promptly went on a 12-2 run to take a 20 point lead with 7:32 left to play. At that point, Connaughton had 18 points while Atkins and Grant had 17 points each. The game was no longer in doubt, but leading scorer was.

That leading scorer turned out to be Grant who finished with 20 points and passed the 1,000 point milestone for his Notre Dame career.

The guard lineup appears to be set with the four who started the game and Steve Vasturia (8 minutes Sunday) in spot duty, but the big man rotation is still up in the air. “I’m still searching,” Brey said. “

A trip to Iowa to play in the Big Ten – ACC Challenge is next for the Irish. “As I always said when we were in the Big East, you feel some pressure,” said Brey. “You want to do well for the league.”

The game will be ND’s first on the road. “Your attention to detail has to be off the charts to win on the road”, Brey told his team. “Then it’s your mental and physical toughness. As much as you love winning at home, there’s nothing like winning in a tough road atmosphere. As fun as the Louisville game was last year, how good was Pittsburgh? Our old guys were like ‘yeah.’ The older nucleus has done it before, but this team has never done it before. Who are we going to be in that atmosphere? Are we going to be poised? Are we going to be mentally tough?”

Time will tell.

Irish Notes
Connaughton jumped center for the first time at Notre Dame. He won the possession easily. “I can jump,” he said with a tinge of disdain for the question. “I’m the dunk champion here. I’m telling you, I can jump.”
After a lackluster first half on the boards, the Irish outrebounded Cornell 22-11 in the second half. Asked about the halftime discussion, Connaughton said, “It was all about focus and using this game to propel us into Tuesday. We’re going to have to rebound better, and we focused on it in the second half.
The Irish finished with 28 assists of their 38 baskets, a very healthy 74%.
Grant passed the 1,000 point milestone in style, making 8-10 from the field including 2-3 from three point range.
Zach Auguste is the #2 big man at this point. He played 17 minutes, scored 10 points, and grabbed nine rebounds.
Between Connaughton’s double-double and Grant’s 20 points, Atkins’ game is easy to overlook. It should not be. He scored 19 points, had six assists, and committed zero turnovers.

ADDITIONAL RECAPS:


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