Dec. 21, 2015
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) Notre Dame’s finish Monday night had its warts, but Demetrius Jackson and the Irish will take it.
Jackson bounced back from a season-low, nine-point effort in a loss to Indiana by scoring 17 points, and the Irish held on for an 87-78 win over Youngstown State.
”I just wanted to come out and continue to play my game, continue to take shots confidently,” Jackson said. ”I wanted to take good, efficient shots, and I thought I did.”
Jackson was 4-for-17 shooting against the Hoosiers on Saturday, but hit 8 of 12 from the field to go to with four rebounds and four assists.
Notre Dame coach Mike Brey had a simple message for Jackson on the ride home from Indianapolis after the loss.
”Sat with him on the bus for about 15 minutes and said, `Let’s get back to work, on to the next one,”’ Brey said. ”Good to see him back in a rhythm.”
V.J. Beachem scored 16 points for the Irish on 4-for-6 shooting from 3-point range. Zach Auguste also had 16 points to go with 10 rebounds, and Bonzie Colson added 14 points and nine boards.
Cameron Morse scored 22 points and Sidney Umude added 15 points and 11 rebounds for Youngstown State (5-8) which has lost four of its last five.
Notre Dame (8-3) is off for the next eight days before a final nonconference game against Liberty on Dec. 29. The Irish open ACC play on Jan. 2 at No. 8 Virginia.
Notre Dame opened the second half with a 14-3 run to take control. Beachem knocked down a pair of 3s in the run, while the Penguins hit just one of their first eight shots.
That advantage ballooned to 22 on Matt Ryan’s 3-pointer with 13:19 to play, but a late 12-2 YSU run made it interesting and forced Brey to re-insert his starters.
”We just have to be sharp,” Jackson said of the late-game lulls – the Irish lost a 16-point second half lead in the loss to Indiana. ”We’ve got to be sharp for a full, complete game.”
Latin Davis’ layup with 38 seconds left got Notre Dame’s lead down to eight, but Auguste hit 3 of 4 free throws down the stretch to seal the win. A 56 percent free-throw shooter on the season, Auguste finished 10 for 12 from the line.
”I’m really proud of Zach from the foul line,” Brey said. ”I actually ran an out of bounds (play) for him to get the ball and get fouled. I felt so good about how he was making free throws.”
After Youngstown State cut Notre Dame’s first-half lead to one, Brey juggled his lineup, inserting seldom-used freshman guard Rex Pflueger with just over four minutes to play before halftime.
Pflueger assisted on a Jackson reverse layup, and the Irish used a 7-0 run to take an eight-point lead into the half.
”I like what Rex gave us,” Brey said. ”He’s been an intriguing one in practice. It was good to look at him with the key guys.”
Brey coached the Irish Monday night despite the death of his father, Paul, on Saturday in Florida. Brey’s mother, Betty, passed away back in March, hours before the Irish played in the second-round of the NCAA tournament against Butler.
”My dad was in bad shape and it’s really a blessing,” Brey said. ”In my mind, I picture him and Mom at Christmas together, and I’m going to spend some good time with my brother and sister on Christmas evening, and we’ll tell some really great stories.”
Youngstown State: The Penguins, who were coming off their worst loss of the season, a 59-point drubbing at Michigan on Saturday, play four straight on the road.
Notre Dame: Brey’s son, Kyle, is the tight ends coach for Youngstown State’s football team under head coach Bo Pellini.
Youngstown State travels to Detroit on Jan. 2.
Notre Dame hosts Liberty on Dec. 29.