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Men’s Basketball

Notre Dame handles Central State 76-54

| Friday, November 2, 2018

Notre Dame downed Central State 76-54 in Purcell Pavilion on Thursday night in its lone exhibition game before the start of the regular season. While the team got off to a bit of a slow start, they did eventually find their rhythm on offense and stayed strong on defense throughout the entirety of the game, holding the Marauders to 31 percent from the field.

Lucas Masin-Moyer | The Observer
Irish senior Elijah Burns backs down a defender in Notre Dame’s 76-54 win over Central State in an exhibition game on Nov. 1.

The first few minutes of action saw a bit of sloppy play by both teams, but ultimately it was the Irish who jumped out to the early lead in large part thanks to the strong effort of junior forward John Mooney. Notre Dame was strong on the glass in the beginning of the game as well, a trend that continued throughout as the Irish out-rebounded the Marauders 48-35 on the night. As the half progressed, Notre Dame struggled to separate themselves from Central State due to some hot 3-point shooting for the visiting team. Finally, with just a few minutes remaining in the first half and only a four point lead, Notre Dame hit its stride and ripped off a 14-2 run to end the half.

Junior guard T.J. Gibbs said the team developed a rhythm as the game went on.

“I think that just comes every day in practice. We’re playing against each other, but we’re also playing with each other,” Gibbs said. “It’s just having confidence in each other knowing that when we reverse the ball and when we swing it to one another and play with each other that we’re going to be a tough team to stop. It’s starting to come down to that where we’re starting to see what we can really do.”

As the second half began, Notre Dame picked up right where they left off at the end of the first. On the offensive end, Gibbs put together a solid performance as he scored 17 points on the night, making him one of three Irish players to score double digits on the night alongside Mooney and sophomore guard D.J. Harvey. Notre Dame was able to easily coast to victory in the second half. Irish head coach Mike Brey spoke after the game about the strong second half performance as well as his excitement to get the season underway.

“I thought in the second half we were a little better with the ball. It was a great night to put the jerseys on six new guys and even D.J. Harvey who’s still working his way back,” Brey said. “ … I told them that we have a long way to go, but we’re all signed up for it. It’s a long road with this group and they’re to be around every day and they’ll come in and work, so we’re going to have to work hard for five months to try and realize what they dream about.”

A notable development on the night was the increase in 3-point shooting for the Irish. After losing a couple of big men in Bonzie Colson and Martinas Geben from last year’s squad, Brey said he recognizes this team will need to rely more on outside shooting this season.

“It was a little high but we’re going to have to make shots,” Brey said on the volume of three-point shots. “We don’t have guys like [Colson] and [Geben] who could score inside the arc … we’re not going to be able to throw it in the post and score. That’s not who we’ve been so we’re going to have to make shots out there.”

The Irish will begin their 2018-19 regular season Tuesday when they host the University of Illinois Chicago as part of the 2018 Gotham Classic, followed by Chicago State University on Thursday.

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