Dec. 9, 2015
Notre Dame, Ind. (AP) – Mike Brey is still trying to nail down his Notre Dame team’s identity, but it’s clear which personalities it revolves around.
As has been the case in most games this season, Zach Auguste and Demetrius Jackson were central figures, Tuesday night, in Notre Dame’s success.
Auguste had 23 points and 11 rebounds and Jackson added 19 points and 10 assists to lead the Irish over Stony Brook 86-61.
Add to Auguste’s impressive numbers the defense he played on Stony Brook forward Jameel Warney, and Brey came away impressed.
”What Zach Auguste gave us was great, guarding the big guy,” Brey said. ”I thought our defense on (Warney) was fabulous.”
Warney, who came in averaging over 18 points and 13 rebounds a game, finished with 16 points and eight boards for Stony Brook (4-3). Warney recorded his 1,000th career rebound with just over a minute left in the first half, but he also struggled from the field, shooting 7-for-17 while being whistled for four fouls.
”We wanted to come in here and step on their throats,” Auguste said. ”They’re a very good team. But when we bring it together as five, as a team, it’s hard for teams to stop us.”
All five starters scored in double figures for the Irish, including V.J. Beachem, who finished with 14 points and was 4 of 8 from 3-point range.
Notre Dame (6-2) won its second straight game after dropping two of three in the Advocare Invitational in Orlando, Florida, to close out the month of November. This was the first game in six days for the Irish since winning at Illinois, 84-79, in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Dec. 2.
”What a great last week for this team as we’re trying to figure ourselves out,” Brey said. ”To win at Illinois, and to come back and methodically beat a good team.”
Carson Puriefoy scored 17 points for the Seawolves, who finished well below their season average of 83.2 points per game.
”They had a lot of days to prepare for us, and they were well-prepared,” said Stony Brook coach Steve Pikiell. ”We gave up a lot of inches on the perimeter, but you have to pick your poison.”
Warney’s field goal in the paint 4:30 into the second half cut Notre Dame’s lead to four, but back-to-back Beachem 3-pointers pushed the Irish advantage back up to 11 points three minutes later.
Those 3-pointers came early in a 25-4 Notre Dame run that also included a Jackson steal at midcourt, which led to a two-handed breakaway dunk on the other end. The Irish lead swelled to 25 points on Matt Ryan’s 3-pointer with 6:24 to play.
”We’ve been in that situation where we’ve been up at half and teams came back to bite us in our butt,” Auguste said. ”So we just locked in, stepped on the gas and then played efficient and stayed positive and worked on our defense.”
Notre Dame went on an early 9-0 run and opened up a double-digit lead in the first five minutes of the game on Beachem’s 3-pointer from the left wing.
Puriefoy answered by scoring eight straight points, and Stony Brook used its own 9-0 run to get back within a point with 7:21 left in the first half.
The Irish shot over 51 percent in the first half, including a 0-for-7 stretch which Jackson finally snapped with a fallaway jumper with 33 seconds left before the break to give the Irish a 40-32 lead.
Notre Dame outrebounded Stony Brook 43-24. Bonzie Colson finished with nine boards, to go with 10 points.
Notre Dame: The Irish improved to 16-0 all-time against the America East Conference and 3-0 against Stony Brook.
Notre Dame hosts Loyola Chicago on Sunday.