Nov. 26, 2010
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) – It wasn’t pretty. And yet after a sloppy, sluggish opening half with almost as many combined turnovers (16) as total points (26), Notre Dame coach Mike Brey felt pretty good about his team’s chances.
“I was trying to do the math. I’ve never had 21 points at halftime and been up 16,” Brey said, chuckling.
It was that type of game.
Carleton Scott had 16 points and 10 rebounds, and Notre Dame held California to five points at halftime to move into the Old Spice Classic championship game with a 57-44 victory Friday night.
The Irish (6-0) took a 21-5 lead in a sloppy first half for both teams and held on to hand the Golden Bears (3-1) their first loss of the season. Notre Dame will play Wisconsin in the final on Sunday at 7 p.m. on ESPN2.
Allen Crabbe had 10 points and 10 rebounds, and Harper Kamp scored nine for California, which couldn’t recover from its horrendous first half. The Golden Bears trimmed the deficit to 10 late, but never mounted a serious threat.
Cal coach Mike Montgomery was so furious with his team’s first-half play he gave his players an old-fashioned scolding in the locker room at the break hoping to ignite a rally.
“It was like the bully at lunchtime out on the playground,” he said.
The talk came too late.
The first half also saw the Old Spice Classic logo at midcourt came unglued. Small patches of the emblem had to be taped down for the second straight day with far more area to cover Friday. The logo didn’t appear to have any holes after it was repaired, and never seemed to affect any plays.
Cal turned the ball over almost every way possible: players bounced balls off their legs, threw passes to the wrong team and sometimes not even to anybody. When the Golden Bears actually did shoot, their attempts weren’t any prettier: They went 2 for 25 before the break, including 0 for 8 on 3-pointers.
“I think it was our communication and rebounding,” said Notre Dame’s Scott Martin, who had 11 points and six rebounds. “We got a lot of one and done. We didn’t give them second chances.”
The lowest combined points in a first half since the shot clock began in 1986 is 18 in a game on Jan. 20 between Savannah State and North Carolina Central, according to STATS LLC.
The Irish weren’t a whole lot better offensively in the half. They were 9-for-32 shooting, including 0 for 13 from beyond the arc, with five turnovers in the opening half. But they eventually found their rhythm, taking a 17-point lead early in the second half to pull away.
Notre Dame will take a win any way it can get it.
Expectations were lower this year with mainstays Luke Harangody and Tory Jackson gone. But now a team that was supposed to be in transition has a chance to do something special already this season.
Cal, meanwhile, got its first reality check.
Five seniors from last season’s Pac-10 title team are gone, including conference player of the year and leading scorer Jerome Randle, second-leading scorer Patrick Christopher and top 3-point shooter Theo Robertson. All played key roles in the school’s first title in 50 years.
A young, inexperienced roster featuring six freshmen for a team that earned back-to-back NCAA tournament berths in Montgomery’s first two seasons finally looked like it.
The Golden Bears will play Boston College in the third-place game on Sunday, trying to find some momentum before the long flight back to the West Coast.
“If somebody picked up the paper they’d say, ‘Ah, they lost to Notre Dame by 13,” Montgomery said. “But if you watched it, you’d have a little different impression.”