Nov. 17, 2012
NEW YORK (AP) – Notre Dame was facing one of the tough situations that come up for college basketball teams in late November: winning a consolation game in a tournament.
The 20th-ranked Fighting Irish responded to its semifinal overtime loss to Saint Joseph’s a night earlier by beating BYU 78-68 in the third-place game of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic at the Barclays Center on Saturday night.
“I’m very, very proud of our team because we invested a lot of energy last night and had our hearts broken,” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said.
“We were moping around a little bit today and rightfully so. By pregame meal at 3 o’clock we had our heads up and I was impressed with our maturity because we were in a battle. We were down seven in the second half and we found a way to get out of here with a win.”
Jack Cooley had 19 points and 13 rebounds, Jerian Grant had 19 points – 17 in the second half – and Eric Atkins added 16, including the 3-pointer that gave the Fighting Irish (3-1) a cushion after the Cougars had pulled within 63-61 with 4:28 to play.
Atkins hit the 3 28 seconds later and that was the fifth of six attempts from beyond the arc in the second half after the Irish had gone 1 of 7 from there in the first half.
Atkins then stole the ball near midcourt and went in for the long layup that made it 68-61. That was Notre Dame’s last field goal of the game as the Irish went 10 of 12 from the free throw line the rest of the game.
Notre Dame used a 16-2 run – during which it made all four of its 3-point attempts – to take a 58-51 lead with 8:48 to play. The Cougars went on an 8-4 run to get within two points for the first time but they got no closer.
“Notre Dame did what they do and that’s they made possessions really long, they executed really well, they hit their free throws and they turned us over,” BYU coach Dave Rose said. “That’s the story.”
Cooley was 7 of 12 from the field as the Fighting Irish shot 52.1 percent from the field (25 of 48) and were 22 of 28 from the free throw line overall.
“Jack is huge,” Grant said of the 6-9 senior. “Whenever we need a bucket or whatever we need to get the offense going, we throw it into him and he seems to make a play.”
Tyler Haws, who entered the game averaging 22.3 points this season, had 21 against Notre Dame, 15 in the second half. The Irish did a good job defending the 6-foot-5 sophomore guard who is returning after serving a 2-year Mormon mission in the Philippines.
Pat Connaughton covered him in the man-to-man defense and the Irish went zone for several possessions in the second half. Haws finished 8 for 20 from the field and he missed two 3-point attempts.
“They’re a tough defensive team and they have tough guys who made it tough on us,” Haws said. “We didn’t make much of some opportunities but we have to learn from this and get better.”
Brandon Davies had 12 points for the Cougars (2-2) as he was limited for the second straight game because of foul trouble. He played 19 minutes against Notre Dame.
“The early foul trouble definitely made it tough on us because he is such a huge part of what we do and we have to have him on the court,” Haws said of Davies. “He’ll learn from this and he will play smarter the next game.”
BYU lost 88-70 to Florida State in the semifinals.