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Men’s Basketball

Irish race past Detroit Mercy as Goodwin scores a career high 27

| Wednesday, December 11, 2019

After two difficult losses to Maryland and Boston College last week, Notre Dame was able to respond emphatically at home on Tuesday night in a non-conference game against Detroit Mercy, overpowering the Titans in every offensive category on the way to a dominant 110-71 victory. The Irish (7-3, 0-2 ACC) were on fire from deep, shooting a season high 51% from beyond the arc. Notre Dame also showed off why it boasts the nation’s leading assist to turnover ratio, dishing out a program record 33 assists on the night.

“I like how we responded this week in practice, and when you get 33 assists, I don’t care who you play that’s pretty powerful,” a more upbeat Mike Brey said after the game. “ We also shot it pretty darn well. We’re not gonna make 20 [three pointers] every night, but if we make 10 or 12 a night, it’s a little different ball game for us.”

Four Irish starters scored in double figures, but the Notre Dame bench also chipped in 45 points. Sophomore forward Nate Laszewski scored 14 points, while sophomore guard Dane Goodwin posted a career high 27 points in 28 minutes. After struggling to score in his last two games, the Ohio native was 10-13 from the field and 5-7 from three.

“It was definitely good to see a couple go down after struggling the last two games,” Goodwin said. “I think I definitely came out with a different mentality that I didn’t have the last two games, just trying to [do] what I can to help the team. We were just moving the ball really well tonight. We got open looks all night long, and I think guys were more aggressive taking their shots.”

Brey joked that he had some better coaching days following Saturday’s loss, including a positive conversation with his sophomores Monday that seemed to light a fire under Goodwin on Tuesday.

“I brought Nate and Dane into my office on Monday and said ‘How can I help you guys?’ And Dane told me I needed to be harder on him. I guess I gotta push him more and he loves it,” Brey said. “He just needs to be aggressive. He’s a gifted guy for sure.”

The Irish started fast, scoring on their first three possessions. Senior guard TJ Gibbs nailed a deep triple on Notre Dame’s first trip down the court, followed by a lob from half court by Gibbs to senior Juwan Durham to set up an easy dunk for the senior forward. Gibbs, who finished with 18 points, then hit another three from nearly the same spot on the court. The Irish continued to find the bottom of the net throughout the first half, shooting 59% from the field as a team in the first half. Goodwin and sophomore guard Prentiss Hubb were able to utilize off ball screens to find a number of wide open looks under the basket. Senior forward John Mooney, who recorded his fourth straight double-double, contributed eight points in the half on four of five shooting. Detroit Mercy sophomore guard Antoine Davis was able to keep the game somewhat close with 14 first half points on 7-11 from the field, but the Irish led 49-33 at the break.

In the second half, the Irish quickly began to pull away. Gibbs again began the half with a deep three, followed by another Durham dunk, this time off a lob from graduate student guard Rex Pflueger. Gibbs would drill three more shots from downtown in the half, and the Irish as a team were 11-18 from beyond the arc after the break. Davis continued his strong performance with 13 points in the second half, but the Titans couldn’t keep up with Notre Dame’s offensive barrage.

“I think as a leader, it’s my job to tell them that we’ve found our offense a little bit in this game, and I think for our three sophomores, who are such a key for us, it was a great night for them to get out of a little bit of a tough week,” Brey said.

Looking ahead, Goodwin explained that despite the opponent, a big win like this one gives the Irish a confidence boost heading into Saturday’s matchup with 7-3 UCLA.

“I think this definitely changes the mood in the locker room a little bit,” he said. “Looking up at the scoreboard and seeing us put up 110, that’s definitely a game changer, and we need our confidence to be high with some tough opponents coming up.”

Brey joked that his team didn’t want to hear about the storied history of Notre Dame’s rivalry with UCLA and is instead focused on avenging last year’s narrow 65-62 loss to the Bruins.

“TJ Gibbs didn’t want to hear about it, he said ‘Coach, we owe them one.’ The way we lost out there, it was a long flight back,” Brey said. “I do agree with him saying we should just focus on the game because that was a hard one to swallow.”

The Irish and Bruins will tip off Saturday at 3:00 p.m. at Purcell Pavilion. The game will be broadcasted on ABC.

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