Men’s Basketball: Brooks and done
Douglas Farmer | Thursday, February 24, 2011
Irish fourth-year forward Tim Abromaitis began the night at a record pace, but it was Providence guard Marshon Brooks who ended the night with the most points in single-game Big East history.
Still, Notre Dame slipped past its host in a high-scoring 94-93 affair Wednesday night.
Brooks, the nation’s second-highest scorer, entered halftime with 17 points. A second-half explosion of 35 points, including 11 in the final minute, brought his tally to 52.
“Marshon Brooks was fabulous tonight,” Irish coach Mike Brey said in his post-game radio interview. “I’m just thrilled we withstood it, and made free throws and got the ball inbounds to escape with a win.”
Abromaitis opened the game with 15 points in the first 6:13, carrying Notre Dame (22-5, 11-4) to an 18-10 lead over the Friars (14-14, 3-12). In the end, though, his 28 total points, along with senior guard Ben Hansbrough’s 32, were barely enough to outdo Brooks’ efforts.
“[Brooks has] such a great demeanor,” Brey said. “We tried a little bit of everything and just about everyone guarded him. The nice thing that Ben [Hansbrough] did was at least those were two-point shots. I was afraid of 3s going in.”
Brooks shot 6-of-10 from deep and 20-of-28 overall, hit 6-of-10 free throws and played all 40 minutes of the contest. He added five rebounds and four assists to his all-but-solo performance.
Friars guard Vincent Council followed Brooks with 13 points of his own.
Notre Dame held an 81-70 lead with 4:46 remaining but made just one more shot from the field, as Brooks and Providence slipped into various zones and stifled Notre Dame’s attack.
“I’ve been in so many of these,” Brey said. “You just have a feeling on the road you are going to have to hold them off. You aren’t going to win by 20, especially with a kid like Brooks in a zone which I’ve never seen before.”
Hansbrough converted six free throws in that time span, leading him to a career-high point total, and the Irish made 11 of 16. Two of those misses came with one second remaining on the clock and Abromaitis on the line. After the second miss off the back of the rim, Brooks’ three-quarter court heave flew wide.
“We got the ball to the right people,” Brey said. “Ben made big free throws. That is just a great team win because the game situations we were in, we can’t simulate those in practice. It’s nice to have them down the stretch.”
The Irish shot 40.9 percent from deep and 56.1 percent overall. Brey said the hot shooting stemmed from their offensive philosophy for the night.
“We wanted to get low-post touches and I think that set the tone for us and got us the lead,” he said. “That’s just good for our offense. I think that is why we shot it so well, because we flattened the defense with low-post touches.
“I’m thrilled to escape with an 11th league win and stay in the race and stay in good position in the league.”
Notre Dame next defends its league position against Seton Hall at Purcell Pavilion Saturday at 7 p.m.