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Men’s Basketball: Notre Dame finishes off overmatched Red Flash squad

Michael Bryan | Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Irish won their second game in less than 48 hours Tuesday, defeating Saint Francis 95-72 in a physical and hard-fought game by the Red Flash.

Saint Francis was called for 24 fouls and sent Notre Dame (2-0) to the free-throw line 22 times but played the Irish close most of the game. While the Red Flash never led past the opening minutes, they kept the home team from putting the game out of reach until the closing minutes of the second half.

“You have to give them credit, they made some tough shots,” Irish senior forward Luke Harangody said. “They were good practice for a good Long Beach State team coming in here Thursday.”

Harangody led the team with 27 points and nine rebounds and showed off his shooting range with three 3-point buckets. Senior guard Ben Hansbrough knocked down four threes and was second on the Irish with 18 points.

After a back-and-forth opening five minutes, the Irish and Red Flash were knotted up at seven apiece. Notre Dame then went on a 12-0 run, fueled by two Harangody threes and one by Hansbrough.

Saint Francis showed some resiliency after the run, cutting the Irish lead down to five at 33-28. The Red Flash then got into foul trouble, with Harangody’s aggressiveness in the post paying off. The senior drew fouls on four straight Notre Dame possessions, and converted the penalties into six points at the free throw line.

Harangody said that in a game with so many whistles, he saw the opportunity to draw some fouls underneath.

“Definitely when they were in the bonus in the first half, I started calling for it down low,” Harangody said. “I knew I could post up and get to the line.”

Red Flash guard Anthony Ervin made two 3-pointers to close out the first half and keep the Red Flash within seven points, trailing 45-38. The Irish drew 12 fouls in the first half, and went to the free throw line 13 times.

Early in the second half, Notre Dame continued trying to pad its lead but the Red Flash responded to every Irish run. After another Harangody three made it 60-45, Saint Francis went on a small run of its own, using two shots from distance from guard Umar Shannon to pull within nine.

The see-saw game continued for the majority of the second half, with the Irish never establishing a lead greater than 15 points, but never allowing the Red Flash closer than five.

Junior forward Tyrone Nash was limited by foul trouble in the first half, but had a strong return, scoring nine points in the second period.

Notre Dame finally pulled away with less than five minutes to play, building a lead up to 20 points at 85-65 on threes by Hansbrough and senior Tory Jackson and a layup by senior guard Jonathan Peoples.

Jackson finished with nine points, nine assists and seven rebounds, and junior Tim Abromaitis had another strong showing off the bench, scoring 17 points and gathering five rebounds.

“Tim Abromaitis gives us another big guy out there, and another guy that can make some shots, get after it offensively and get some big rebounds,” Hansbrough said. “He’s really helped us out coming off the bench, he played unbelievable.”

Shannon led Saint Francis with 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting, and the Red Flashes shot 68 percent from 3-point range to keep the Irish from pulling away until late.

The Irish will face their first real test of the year against Long Beach State at home on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. The 49ers went 15-15 last season but were picked to finish first in the Big West Conference.