Oct. 29, 2012
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – A pair of preseason all-BIG EAST selections lived up to their billing Monday evening at Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center as the No. 22/23 Notre Dame men’s basketball team cruised past Quincy University, 111-52, in the team’s exhibition opener.
Senior forward Jack Cooley, a preseason first-team all-BIG EAST pick, paced the Irish with 21 points on 9-of-12 shooting and added seven rebounds and five steals in 24 minutes of action. Junior guard Jerian Grant, who garnered all-league honorable mention preseason accolades, added 19 points on 6-of-10 shooting and dished out eight assists.
Notre Dame used a pair of runs, a 19-2 spurt to open the game and a 25-0 burst midway through the second half, to build a commanding lead it would not relinquish.
Junior point guard Eric Atkins distributed a game-high 13 assists as part of a Notre Dame offense that notched an impressive 30 helpers on 43 field made goals. Atkins added 17 points on 6-of-6 shooting and contributed five of the team’s 15 steals.
The Irish shot 62.3 percent (43-69) from the floor against the Hawks, including an 11-of-27 mark (.407) from three-point territory, and held a commanding 44-21 advantage on the boards. Notre Dame used a strong inside presence to assert its will against the Hawks and posted a 58-8 scoring advantage in the paint.
The Irish opened the game on an 8-0 run, which culminated with a powerful fast-break dunk by Cooley off a nice pass from Atkins. After a lay-in by Quincy’s Ryan Stuckman put the Hawks on the board, Notre Dame pieced together another run, this time an 11-point surge, that moved the Irish ahead 19-2 with 11:26 to play in the first half. During the opening sequence, Notre Dame shot 53.5 percent from the field and used an aggressive man-to-man defense to limit the Hawks to a 9.1 percent mark (1-11) from the floor.
The stifling Irish defense forced 20 Quincy turnovers in the game and converted the miscues into 40 points. The Hawks shot 32.7 percent (18-55) from the floor and made just 27.8 percent (5-18) of their three-point attempts.
Five-straight points from freshman forward Cameron Biedscheid extended the Notre Dame lead to 21 (27-6) and a three-pointer by Grant kept the Irish in front by that margin (37-16) with 4:19 to go in the half. From there, the Irish put together another 8-0 spurt to build a 45-16 advantage and took a 52-21 lead into the break.
Back-to-back three-pointers by graduate forward Scott Martin and sophomore guard Pat Connaughton pushed the Irish advantage to 37 (58-21) just seconds into the second half. A strong finish from Cooley made it 64-28 and began the 25-0 run by Notre Dame that included an electric alley-oop dunk from Atkins to Grant and a transition slammer from Connaughton. The surge gave the Irish a 57-point lead (87-30) with 10:14 to go, and the lead grew to 60 points (98-38) after Biedscheid knocked down his third three-pointer of the game with seven minutes remaining.
Biedscheid registered 12 points in his Notre Dame debut and added four rebounds in 22 minutes on the floor.
Notre Dame reached the century mark on a lay-in by Connaughton (100-39) with 5:28 remaining and took its biggest lead of the contest at 65 (104-39) after a long jumper by senior forward Tom Knight.
Freshman Geoffrey Hartlieb posted nine points and two assists to lead the Quincy effort, while freshman Jens Kennedy added nine points and two rebounds for the Hawks.
Irish senior center Garrick Sherman, who transferred to Notre Dame from Michigan State in 2011, notched 12 points and eight rebounds in his debut, while Connaughton added 12 points, eight rebounds and six assists. The Fighting Irish play their second and final exhibition contest Friday when they play host to Cardinal Stritch University. Tip-off is slated for 8 p.m. (ET) at Purcell Pavilion.