Dec. 29, 2010
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) – With three top-10 challenges facing his team to open Big East conference play, Notre Dame coach Mike Brey knew his veteran team had to play its brand of basketball to have a chance.
The Irish got off to a good start in the league Wednesday night against No. 9 Georgetown, with No. 5 Syracuse and No. 4 Connecticut looming over the next week.
Tim Abromaitis scored 20 points and Tyrone Nash added 15 points and 10 rebounds to lead No. 15 Notre Dame to a 69-55 win over the visiting Hoyas.
A big key for the Irish (12-1) was holding the nation’s fourth-best 3-point shooting team to a dismal 4-of-22 (18 percent) from the arc.
“I thought we imposed our will,” Brey said. “We’re old, and you like when you have an old team and they play maturely. We’ll smile for another 30 minutes and then we’ve got to go play an undefeated team (Syracuse) in the Carrier Dome.”
Back-to-back 3-pointers from Abromaitis and Scott Martin sparked a 14-2 Notre Dame run in the second half to put the Irish up by 16 points with 11:51 to play.
Georgetown (11-2) answered back with a 9-0 run to cut the Irish lead to seven points three minutes later. But Abromaitis hit a 3-pointer from the corner and Ben Hansbrough followed with one of his own with just over six minutes to go to push the Notre Dame lead back to double digits.
“I thought our poise was really good in how we responded,” Brey said. “(Abromaitis) is a veteran guy and he senses the moment when we need a little bit of a dagger type shot. He’s been doing it a while now.”
Austin Freeman, who scored 21 to lead Georgetown, netted four straight to get the deficit back under 10, but a three-point play by Abromaitis with 3:24 left ended the Hoyas’ chances for a late comeback.
“I think that part of our maturity is that we have been in situations like that where teams have made runs on us and we have been able to come back from that and we know we can do it if we stay poised,” said Abromaitis, one of five senior starters for the Irish. “We slow it down if we need to and get the stops when we need to.”
The Irish used an 8-0 run halfway through the first half to take the lead, which they did not relinquish.
Georgetown guards Chris Wright and Jason Clark, each averaging 13.7 points per game coming in, combined to score 11. Wright managed only three points on 1-of-9 shooting, 0-of-5 from behind the arc.
“You have to give their defense credit,” Georgetown coach John Thompson III said of the Irish. “Everything was contested and they did a good job. It seemed like, once we started to miss, it began to snowball.”
The Hoyas, who came into the game second in the nation shooting 52.8 percent from the field, were held to 42.6 percent shooting in their first loss in a Big East opener under Thompson in eight tries.
“We had some mistakes in this game that we haven’t had and we aren’t going to have in the future,” Thomson said. “To say we’re out of sync probably would be accurate, and we have to take care of that. This is not the time to be out of sync.”
Hansbrough finished with 17 for ND, including 10-of-10 from the free throw line. The Irish enjoyed a huge advantage from the line, shooting 22-of-27 while Georgetown went just 5-of-9. Martin chipped in 11 points.
“We set the tone and we focused early,” Hansbrough said. “We really want to impose our will on people. I think we increased our focus and that our will to win won us the game tonight.”