Nov. 14, 2010
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – A strong defensive effort powered the Notre Dame men’s basketball team to a 72-51 non-conference win over Liberty Sunday afternoon at Purcell Pavilion.
The Irish used a suffocating man-to-man defense to limit the Flames to 35.6 percent (21-59) shooting from the floor, including a 29.4 percent (5-17) mark from three-point territory. Notre Dame also forced 15 turnovers and converted the Liberty (1-1) miscues into 31 points.
Much like he did earlier in the week to open the regular season against Georgia Southern, Ben Hansbrough provided the hot hand for the Irish as the senior led all players with 19 points and tied a career-high with five three-pointers.
Three other Notre Dame (2-0) players scored in double figures, including a 16-point, nine-rebound performance from Tyrone Nash. Nash’s point total tied a personal-best, while the forward also set career-highs in free throws made (12) and attempts(15) to pace the Irish from the line.
Tim Abromaitis added 13 points and seven rebounds for Notre Dame while freshman Eric Atkins contributed 10 points and four assists in 22 minutes.
The Irish used a barrage of three-pointers to create some distance from Liberty in the early going. Hansbrough’s triple courtesy of an assist from Nash gave Notre Dame a 12-6 edge and another three-pointer – this time by Scott Martin – made it 15-8 at the 12:09 mark of the first half. With 10:50 to play in the period, Hansbrough found Abromaitis in the corner for a three-point goal that moved the Irish in front by 11 at 21-10.
The Flames battled back to cut the lead to 25-19, but from there, Notre Dame took control for good. After a pair of free throws from Abromaitis, Hansbrough connected on a three-pointer that put the Irish ahead, 33-19, with under three minutes to play and Atkins put the finishing touches on the opening half with a lay-in as time expired to give Notre Dame a 41-22 lead at the break.
The home team closed the period on a 16-3 run.
Notre Dame connected on more three-pointers (seven) than two-point field goals (five) in the half and shot 46.7 percent from beyond the arc. Hansbrough contributed four of the three-pointers and led all scorers with 14 first-half points.
Liberty moved within 15 on a leaner by John Brown, but the Irish regained a 19-point edge (45-26) on a one-handed fast break dunk from Carleton Scott at the 16:30 mark of the second half. Scott finished the contest with four points, six rebounds and three blocks in 25 minutes.
A strong drive and finish by Abromaitis extended the lead to 54-32 and a fundamental up-and-under by Nash gave the Irish a 60-37 advantage with 6:55 left in the contest.
The Flames cut the deficit to 16 (62-46) with 4:05 remaining, but could not move any closer for the remainder of the contest.
David Minaya paced Liberty with 12 points while John Brown added a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds.
Sunday’s game marked the second all-time meeting between Notre Dame and Liberty, with the Irish winning the previous game, 91-72, last season.
The Irish return to action with their third non-conference tilt in five days, a 7:30 p.m. (ET) home contest against Chicago State on Wednesday (Nov. 17).