Nov. 1, 2011
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – On the strength of 28 points and nine rebounds from graduate student Tim Abromaitis and a double-double from junior forward Jack Cooley, the Notre Dame men’s basketball team opened its 2011-12 season with a 90-72 exhibition victory over Saint Xavier (Ill.) on Tuesday night at Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center.
The Irish, who led by 12 (51-39) at halftime, held steady with their double-digit lead for the entire second half, eventually boosting it to 20 (76-56) with eight minutes left in the game.
Along with Abromaitis’ near double-double, Cooley produced 14 points and 11 rebounds, while sophomore guard Eric Atkins showed a steady hand, scoring 19 points and dishing out six assists with just one turnover.
On the game, the Irish shot just over 48 percent from the field and held an 11-rebound margin at 45-34. Notre Dame had a decided advantage at the free-throw line, shooting 36 free throws to just eight for Saint Xavier, good for an extra 20 points.
“I thought that was a good team for us to play,” said Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey. “They’re older, they play together and they really run their stuff. They really challenged us, and we couldn’t guard them sometimes. We weren’t very good defensively at times, and we had some good possessions. It was a good learning tape for us.”
A scrappy Saint Xavier team battled the Irish for much of the first half, taking its only lead of the game at 13-12 and trailing by just two (28-26) at the 8:24 mark. From there, Notre Dame went on a 23-13 run, keyed by Abromaitis’ 11 points over the final 7:23, to stretch its halftime lead to 12 points.
Abromaitis, a forward, dropped 20 first-half points, going 6-of-13 from the field, including 3-of-7 from three-point range. He also converted on 5-of-6 shots from the charity stripe.
“I was really pleased with Jack [Cooley], with his start and playing 23 minutes. I think he maybe could have played more,” added Brey. “I was pleased with Eric Atkins for the most part. I think we have to work with him defensively. As far as running our team and finding ways to score, he’s going to need to do that. Certainly, (Tim) Abromaitis, I hope our fans realize he’s just a beautiful basketball player to watch. He’s one of the best players in the country. Enjoy it, man. He was a rock for us tonight. With young guys running all over the place at times, he kind of steadied us.”
Leading the way for the Cougars were junior guard Roosevelt Green, who produced 19 points and seven assists before fouling out, and sophomore guard Brad Karp, who led Saint Xavier with 25 points and nine rebounds.
The Fighting Irish play their second and final exhibition contest Monday when they face Stonehill College (Mass.). Tip-off is slated for 7:30 p.m. (ET) at Purcell Pavilion.