Nov. 10, 2013
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) – Garrick Sherman’s first game this season was one to forget.
He fouled out and scored just three points in No. 21 Notre Dame’s season-opening win on Friday. Fortunately for the fifth-year senior, he only had to wait two days to erase the memory of that performance.
Sherman had 15 points and nine rebounds Sunday, and Jerian Grant also scored 15 points to lead the Fighting Irish to an 80-49 victory over Stetson.
“This was a good bounce-back game today,” Sherman said. “It was good that we had a quick game. It was easy to get it out of my mind quick.”
Sherman was 7 of 11 from the field against Stetson, after making just one of his seven attempts against Miami (Ohio) two days earlier.
“Friday night wasn’t a great one,” Irish coach Mike Brey said. “We laughed about it. He’s been through it all, and right before tip, I said, `Would you just have fun today?’ I just wanted him to laugh a little bit.”
Pat Connauhgton added 10 points for the Irish (2-0) and senior point guard Eric Atkins finished with eight points, leaving him five short of 1,000 for his career.
Reserve Brian Pegg led the Hatters (0-2) with 13 points and Willie Green added eight points and nine rebounds.
The Irish took a double-digit lead less than 5 minutes in as they improved to 48-0 at home in November under Brey.
After scoring just 15 points in the first half of their season-opening loss at Clemson on Friday, the Hatters managed 21 against Notre Dame as they started 1 of 5 from the field with four turnovers in the first 5 minutes. That fueled a 12-0 run that put the Irish out front 17-3, with 10 points coming off Stetson turnovers.
“We were so efficient in the first half,” Brey said. “We were solid defensively, keeping them to one-and-done. That’s how we play. That’s our program.”
The Hatters, who lost over 64 percent of their scoring from last season and are still looking for some offensive cohesiveness with nine new faces on the roster, got some help from their reserves. Pegg, a redshirt freshman, entered the game after Notre Dame’s run and delivered two three-point plays during an 8-0 run to get the deficit down to six points, 7 minutes in. But that was as close as Stetson got the rest of the way.
First-year Stetson coach Corey Williams was at a loss for why his team has struggled at the start of both games this season.
“Right now, I’m searching for that,” Williams said. “I thought we would do a little bit better of a job today after the Clemson debacle.”
The Irish, who opened the season with a 74-62 win over Miami of Ohio, answered with their own bench as freshman Demetrius Jackson had a coast-to-coast layup and Austin Burgett scored five straight points to get the lead back to 16 with 9 minutes left in the half. The lead grew to 23 with eight straight points from Grant, who finished the first half with 13.
“We try to come out the gates hot and get off to a great start,” said Jackson, who finished with nine points. “That’s what the starters did today.”
While the Hatters struggled, shooting just 27 percent (8 for 30) from the field with 10 turnovers in the first half, Notre Dame shot 64 percent (9 for 13) from 3-point range and 61 percent overall from the field.
“You can’t win any basketball games like that,” Williams said. “This was a tall order for us.”
The second half held little drama as Notre Dame’s lead never dipped below 27 points. Brey was able to give extensive minutes to all 10 players. Nine of them scored and none played fewer than 15 minutes.
“Our older guys got off to such a good start, it allowed me to play our younger guys long minutes, and together,” Brey said. “That was a good day for us early in the season, trying to figure out our young guys. We know who our old guys are.”