Irish dominate Catholic in final exhibition game
Manuel De Jesus | Tuesday, November 8, 2016
Before opening up the regular season this Saturday against Bryant at home, Notre Dame followed up last week’s 61-point preseason win over Mercy with a 103-48 win over Catholic on Tuesday night at Purcell Pavilion.
The Irish were carried by a barrage of 3-pointers and a stout defense that held the Cardinals to just 30 percent shooting from the field. Senior forward captain Steve Vasturia led the charge, draining all three of his 3-pointers in the first 10 minutes of the game. He finished the game with 14 points, all in the first half. Senior forward captain V.J. Beachem led the team with 20 points on 8-of-13 shooting while connecting on a 3-pointer in each half.
Junior forward captain Bonzie Colson got his fair share of opportunities from beyond the arc, connecting on two of his four attempts. Colson finished second in scoring with 17 points and led the Irish with 13 rebounds.
A noticeable improvement from the team’s captains was the drop in turnovers from the first exhibition game — during which the captains committed seven turnovers — to Tuesday’s performance, where they gave up only two turnovers. The team protected the ball, all while recording 28 assists, which Irish head coach Mike Brey was pleased to see.
“I saw it this summer,” Brey said. “[Moving the ball] is part of our culture, and we’re really proud of it. It’s really a fun way to play and our young guys have come into it and have absorbed it and learned from the older guys this summer that this is how we play.”
Junior guard Matt Farrell, who is seeing his first minutes as a starter since the NCAA tournament, led the team in assists against the Cardinals with eight, while committing just a single turnover. He also added eight points to the team’s high-scoring performance.
Junior forward Martinas Geben, sophomore forward Elijah Burns, sophomore guard Rex Pflueger and freshman guard T.J. Gibbs all added to the fast-paced offense, scoring 11, six, eight and three points respectively. The big addition on the night came from sophomore forward Matt Ryan, who saw his first time on the court this season with 13 minutes left in the first half. Coming off of a foot injury, Ryan was quick to contribute knocking down a 3-pointer near the top of the key.
“He’s been moving good the last few days of practice,” Brey said. “We just got to get his conditioning up. It’s an amazing weapon what he can do out there. He can do other things too. He can pass it, he cuts, he’s rebounded for us, but we’re going to need him, and I love the fact that he’s healthy and we got some time to get him in shape before we play Saturday again.”
Brey said he was also happy about what he was able to see out of Geben, who will permanently take the role of the team’s big man with former forward Zach Auguste out of the lineup.
“These two games were important for Martin,” Brey said. “He hasn’t played, so to start, to get out there with the veteran guys and have some success — it doesn’t matter who it’s against — he needs to feel good about himself going into Saturday, and I think we’ve achieved that.”
Now that Notre Dame has played a few exhibition games, the team believes its prepared to move on toward the regular season and continue to perform at a high level.
“We’re ready to get going,” Vasturia said. “I think we’ve had a lot of practices against each other, and these were two good games to get us ready. We’re excited to get going with this season. … This team has grown a lot, and we know how to play together. I think people are starting to understand the rules, and these games are great for guys, freshmen and the other guys coming off the bench understanding what their roles is too, so I think we’re in great shape.”
With the exhibition slate over, Notre Dame will begin its regular season Saturday against Bryant at the Purcell Pavilion at noon.