Notre Dame dominated No. 20 Michigan State from start to finish Wednesday night at Purcell Pavillion, earning a signature win in the ACC-Big 10 Challenge. Here are four key moments from the victory:
Ryan leads first half three point barrage
The Irish offense was clicking on all cylinders early, led by graduate student guard Cormac Ryan. He lit up the Spartans en route to 20 first half points on 7-8 shooting, including 5-5 from beyond the arc. With just over five minutes left in the opening frame, he went on a personal 8-0 run.
He scored five points in just 11 seconds, drilling a three before scoring in the paint after the Spartans committed an offensive foul. After the Irish defense got another stop, he knocked down yet another triple to extend the Irish lead to 39-16, sending Purcell Pavilion into a frenzy.
Less than a week after the Irish went 2-17 from beyond the arc in a loss to St. Bonaventure, they knocked down 62% of their attempts from deep in the first half Wednesday, while holding the Spartans to just 29%.
Irish defense puts clamps on Spartans early
Michigan State came into the game averaging nearly 74 points per contest against a slew of ranked teams, but Notre Dame’s defense wasn’t deterred on Wednesday night. Right from the opening tip, the Irish defense swarmed the Spartans, forcing bad shots and turnovers all night.
The Spartans converted on just one of their first nine attempts from the field, and their 24 first half points marked a season low. Graduate student forward Nate Laszewski was particularly impressive defensively for the Irish, consistently shutting down the Spartan’s big men. The first few minutes was merely a precursor of what was to come as Mike Brey’s defense made life miserable for Tom Izzo’s squad all night.
10-0 opening run sparks offense
The dominant defense in the opening minutes allowed Notre Dame’s offense to find its groove as well. Despite starting relatively slowly —the Irish led just 5-2 at the first media timeout — the offense eventually hit its stride, scoring 10 straight points after Michigan State’s opening bucket.
Laszewski scored four, freshman guard JJ Starling added three and Ryan capped off the run with his first three pointer of the night. The Irish built a 10-2 lead over the first six-plus minutes, which ultimately proved to be insurmountable for the Spartans. The Irish led by double digits for the final thirty minutes of the contest.
Laszewski dunk puts game away
It’s difficult to pin down one moment in which this contest was definitively over, as Notre Dame led by 18 points at halftime and held the Spartans at arm’s length throughout the second half. The large contingent of Michigan State fans who had made the journey from East Lansing tried their best to get their team back into the contest, but each time the Spartans made a run, the Irish would respond in kind.
On one such occasion midway through the period, as the Spartans made a push, Laszewski knocked down a three while falling to the ground, and on the next possession, found himself open on a cut to the basket and threw down a vicious slam. The dunk came in the midst of a 9-0 run for the Irish which would put them up by 23 and take any remaining wind out of the Spartans’ sails. Laszewski scored just nine points in the contest, after coming in averaging more than 18, but his impact for the Irish was far greater than his numbers indicated.
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