Nov. 5, 2015
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Playing the second of two preseason exhibition contests, the University of Notre Dame men’s basketball team downed Caldwell University 81-56 Thursday at Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center.
Three players – V.J. Beachem, Demetrius Jackson and Steve Vasturia – scored in double figures for the Fighting Irish, with Beachem posting a team-high 13 points, while Jackson and Vasturia each finished with 11 points. Vasturia accounted for all 11 of his points in the second half.
Caldwell got off to a strong start, building an 8-2 lead in the opening minutes of play. Beachem, a junior forward, responded, sparking the Fighting Irish offense with a 3-pointer coming out of a media timeout (15:32). Assisted by sophomore guard Matt Farrell, the play commenced a 17-2 Irish run, providing Notre Dame a 19-10 advantage on the scoreboard at 11:15.
The Irish bench continued to produce, as Farrell led the crew with seven points as he connected on two-of-three first-half field goal attempts. Jackson and Beachem also contributed seven points each, splitting the team-high total. Notre Dame shot 51.7 percent (15-of-29) from the field and built a 37-26 at the break.
Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey had high praise for Farrell following the game. Farrell helped contribute to 28 bench points from the Fighting Irish overall.
“When Matt (Farrell) goes in, we can really open the floor up,” says Brey. “He handles the ball, taking some pressure of Demetrius (Jackson), and he also makes shots. He’s really a key for us. I’m really pleased with what he’s been doing. As we said last week, that’s how he’s been all summer and through the fall.”
Vasturia opened up the floor in the second stanza. The Medford, New Jersey native connected on two-of-three shots from 3-point range and posted each of his 11 points in the second half alone. Vasturia and the Irish combined for their largest lead of the game, 29 points, off a 3-pointer from Beachem at the 9:24 mark.
Beachem also ended the game with five rebounds, while Jackson contributed five assists. A trio of Irish players – Farrell, Bonzie Colson and Zach Auguste – were short of reaching double-figures, earning nine points each.
Although the offense flowed more freely later as the game progressed, the Irish are still finding their comfort in the half-court game.
“I think we just have to be a little more patient,” says Vasturia. “I think we have a lot of talent offensively and that’s pretty clear, but I think sometimes we’ve gotten away from moving the ball and playing without the ball especially. I think we have seen that in practice a lot. We just have to keep improving on it. It’s definitely there – just playing the way that we play and we know that we can.”
Notre Dame shared the ball well, registering 19 assists as a team. Jackson and Farrell each dished off a team-high five assists. Auguste was the leading rebounder for the Irish with eight total.
Similar to the first exhibition win over St. Francis (Illinois), Brey provided minutes to members of the freshmen class. Matt Ryan, a rookie guard from Cortland Manor, N.Y., led the group with eight points and four rebounds.
The Irish hit 50 percent of their shots (32-of-64) for the game, including 33 percent (8-of-24) from behind the arc. Caldwell outrebounded Notre Dame 23-18 in the opening half, but the Irish ended the game with a 49-38 advantage. Notre Dame secured 11 points off 10 Caldwell turnovers.
Notre Dame hosts St. Francis (Pa.) in the season-opener at Purcell Pavilion on Friday, Nov. 13.