Brey, Colson ejected in victory over Terriers
Joe Everett | Monday, December 4, 2017
Looking to rebound from its first loss of the season at the hands of No. 3 Michigan State, No. 5 Notre Dame took care of business at home Sunday afternoon against St. Francis Brooklyn, grinding out a 71-53 win over the Terriers (2-6).
The game received unexpected significance late in the second half, when both head coach Mike Brey and senior forward Bonzie Colson were ejected from the game: Colson for an inadvertent elbow; Brey for arguing with the official. It was Brey’s first career ejection as a head coach, who explained that the tighter-than-expected game flow may have been contributed to the ejections.
“I deserved it … the three officials probably thought it was going to be a Sunday afternoon glide, and it got a little interesting, and then they were trying to play catch up. All those guys are really good officials, too. That’s probably all I should say … never been ejected. That’s new territory, man.”
Coming off its Thursday night loss on the road to the Spartans, the Irish (7-1) started off a bit sluggish against the Terriers, only holding a slim 16-14 lead midway through the first half. However, the Irish began to steadily pull away from the Terriers to enter halftime up 43-25, paced by 10 points apiece from Colson and senior Martinas Geben.
The second half saw the Irish struggle to generate much offense and put the Terriers away, who turned the game into a chippy, foul-heavy contest in the second half.
“They’re scrappy as heck,” Brey said. “They got tough kids, New York kids, and I thought they played very well and scrapped all the way to the end.”
Despite struggling for large portions of the game, the Irish offense was well balanced, as five players finished in double figures scoring. Senior forward Martinas Geben led the way with 14 points and 10 rebounds for his first career double double, and Brey commented on the Lithuanian native postgame.
“He’s really playing well. He deserves it, you heard me say preseason if there was ever a guy who deserved a good senior season it was [Martinas]. I always thought that if we got him 25 minutes [he could be a double-double guy], and he’s delivering … it’s in him. We saw a lot there when we recruited him, and I always felt we weren’t doing our job to have him more productive. This double-double stuff could become a habit if he gets enough minutes.”
Geben added that he’s grateful for the opportunity and glad to be producing for the team.
“Senior year you’re supposed to play your best basketball, and I think I’m doing that,” Geben said. “Obviously I can improve. As long as the team wins and I can play well, that’s going to make me happy. Numbers don’t mean anything unless we win.”
In addition to Geben’s production, Colson scored 13 points and senior point guard Matt Farrell dropped 12, while sophomore guard T.J. Gibbs and freshman guard D.J. Harvey each added 10. Brey commented on the offensive production, which while relatively low, was aided by good defense.
“It’s been hard for us to get out of the gate, offensively,” Brey said. “Thank God we’ve been defending, or we could be in more trouble. If we can [get] stops, rebound and outlet and come down in early offense, I think that’s going to help us. It’s a selling point — we have to defend, because that’s going to help our offense on the other end. I’m still figuring out how to help us in the half-court depending on who’s on the floor for us.
“We weren’t very good offensively, but I thought we defended and guarded, and did that win a little bit of an ugly game, and I’m thrilled that in the last five minutes Rob Balanis and a veteran team figured out how to finish it without any drama.“
Up next, the Irish will take on Ball State Tuesday at home in Purcell Pavilion. Tip-off is at 7 p.m.