Oct. 30, 2015
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The University of Notre Dame men’s basketball team returned to the Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center hardwood Friday evening, recording an 87-56 win in exhibition play over the St. Francis Fighting Saints.
Twelve different Fighting Irish players scored in the contest. Sophomore Bonzie Colson, part of Notre Dame’s starting rotation, led the Irish with 12 points, while junior starters Demetrius Jackson and Steve Vasturia added 10 points each. Sophomore Matt Farrell came off the bench to net 10 points and dish off four assists as he played 18 minutes in the contest.
St. Francis jumped out to a brief 11-6 lead before the Irish went on a 17-0 run, building a 23-11 advantage at 10:37. Notre Dame refocused on the defensive end of the floor during the run and forced five turnovers from the Fighting Saints.
Senior Zach Auguste, junior V.J. Beachem, Jackson, Vasturia and Colson, all earned starting nods in the exhibition opener. But it was Farrell who provided the key spark off the Irish bench. Ferrell hit all three of his shot attempts and registered seven in six minutes of play in the first half alone.
“It’s exciting for me right now,” Farrell says. “It’s the first game, so obviously nothing is set in stone, but it’s definitely exciting for me to go out there and get some quality time with the starters and see how much of a rhythm we can get going. It was definitely fun to be out there with them.”
At the half, Notre Dame led St. Francis by a score of 42-19. The Irish extended their run to 36-8, spanning 15:34 minutes of play. Beachem led all scorers with nine points, while Auguste posted seven rebounds.
Three newcomers – Matt Ryan, Rex Pflueger and Elijah Burns – checked into the game in the first half. Each of the freshmen trio contributed their first collegiate points in the opening minutes, with Ryan and Pflueger connecting from behind the 3-point arc. Ultimately, Ryan led the rookie class with five points.
The Irish continued distancing themselves from St. Francis in the second half, leading by as many as 36 points at the 10:03 mark. Jackson, who was recently named to the Preseason All-ACC first team, ended the game with 10 points and five assists. Colson led the Irish in scoring with 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting, and Auguste secured a game-high eight rebounds.
“It felt good to just be playing against another team, have fun, get back on the same bench and cheer for each other,” Jackson says. “I thought we came out a little fast, especially me. But second half we did a great job locking in defensively, and being under control, especially me, as well as making better decisions with the ball.”
Four Irish – Colson, Farrell, Jackson and Vasturia – produced a double-digit scoring effort in the game, while twelve players suiting up for the Irish contributed points. Vasturia dished a team-high six assists.
As a unit, Notre Dame shot 49 percent (29-of-59) from the floor, including 38 percent (8-of-21) from 3-point range. The Irish outrebounded the Fighting Saints 45-23 and registered 17 assists. Notre Dame scored 25 points off 18 St. Francis turnovers.
The Irish will host Caldwell in the preseason finale 7 p.m. Thursday at Purcell Pavilion.