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Men’s Basketball

Auguste, Beachem power offense as Irish roll

| Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Demetrius Jackson crouched low, loaded up and skied for a defensive rebound. He screamed, “Mine!” and outleaped his 6-foot-10 teammate Zach Auguste in the opening minutes Wednesday night. It was the most opposition the Irish would face.

Jackson screeched down the court and spun in a finger roll as part of Notre Dame’s scorching start in a 104-67 bulldozing of Coppin State on Wednesday night at Purcell Pavilion.

Notre Dame sophomore forward V.J. Beachem prepares to drive during Wednesday’s win over Coppin State at Purcell Pavilion.Emmet Farnan | The Observer

Notre Dame sophomore forward V.J. Beachem prepares to drive during Wednesday’s win over Coppin State at Purcell Pavilion.

“I love the fact that we got off to a really good start and were really ready to play,” Irish head coach Mike Brey said. “Tonight afforded us to play some guys off the bench longer minutes and hopefully get them even more confident.”

Five Irish players scored in double figures, with junior forward Zach Auguste pouring in 21 points on perfect nine-of-nine shooting and sophomore forward V.J. Beachem adding a career-high 19 as Notre Dame (3-0) took down the Eagles (0-3).

The Irish led by at least 30 points for the final 10:42 after opening up with a 30-point halftime advantage. Notre Dame’s 104 points were its most since dropping 104 in the five-overtime victory over Louisville on Feb. 9, 2013. The Irish shot 65.6 percent from the floor.

Beachem led the Irish bench, as Notre Dame had eight players log at least 18 minutes.

“We know coming off the bench we have to be ready to play and not have any drop-off in energy or play,” Beachem said. “The starters get off to a great start every night, so they get us going and everybody has to be ready after them.”

Beachem connected on five of his six 3-point attempts. He had never made more than two triples in a game in his young career. He hit from all over the court — left corner, right wing, right corner.

“Just taking my time and imagining myself in the gym all alone, that’s really what I think about when I’m shooting, just all alone in the gym getting shots up,” Beachem said.

“He’s been practicing that way,” Brey added. “For him to get confident, he’s such a key guy for us. … We really started grooming him in that [sixth-man] role in the Italy [summer] tour.”

The Irish bombarded the Eagles early, climbing to a 14-0 lead in the first two-and-a-half minutes. Notre Dame added runs of 5-0, 5-0, 11-0 and 9-0 en route to a 53-23 halftime advantage. Layups and dunks were the norm for the Irish, who shot 20-of-28 (71.4 percent) in the opening stanza, while adding five 3-pointers for good measure. Notre Dame even used a substitution timeout to slide in freshman guard Matt Farrell in the final 100 seconds of the half.

“We were just outmanned tonight,” Coppin State head coach Michael Grant said. “Notre Dame is going to be a very, very good team if they continue to shoot the ball the way they’ve been shooting it.”

Auguste’s 21 points marked his third consecutive career-high output after tallying 19 and 20 points, respectively, over the weekend against Binghamton and Navy.

“He’s scoring for us right now,” Brey said of Auguste. “I love that he’s scoring the ball. He’s a perfect big to play off a perimeter that can really find you because he moves quick and he rolls fast. And he’s a great target. I think we’ve all got a feel for really finding him.”

Irish junior forward Austin Burgett did not dress while recovering from an ankle injury. Brey said Burgett is still sore and is “questionable” for Saturday’s matchup with Massachusetts.

“The one thing is you better get healthy because we’ve got a lot of guys,” Brey said. “I think V.J. Beachem and certainly [freshman forward] Bonzie [Colson] were kind of like drooling, like, ‘Ooh, more minutes to go around.’”

Notre Dame hits the road this weekend for the Hall of Fame Tipoff Tournament in Uncasville, Connecticut, where the Irish will meet Massachusetts and Providence. Florida State rounds out the field.

“We expect two wins for sure,” Irish senior guard Jerian Grant said. “We’re gonna prepare like these are two great teams. Coach has been telling us, ‘We’re the poorest team going out there.’”

The Irish face Massachusetts on Saturday at noon and Providence on Sunday at 2 p.m.

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About Mike Monaco

Senior Sports Writer Mike Monaco is a senior majoring in Film, Television and Theatre with a minor in Journalism, Ethics, and Democracy as well as Business Economics. The O’Neill Hall native hails from the Boston area and is an aspiring play-by-play broadcaster.

Contact Mike