Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

Ball State shocks No. 9 Notre Dame

Leave a comment

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — Ball State had never come close against Notre Dame, let alone beat the Fighting Irish.

Both changed Tuesday night on Tayler Persons’ left-wing 3-pointer with 1.7 seconds remaining as the Cardinals shocked the ninth-ranked Fighting Irish 80-77 at Purcell Pavilion.

“I’m going to create shots for myself,” Persons said after confidently dribbling down the clock against Rex Pflueger. “Just stay aggressive. I’ve always had the same mindset — just hit more shots.”

Persons scored 24 points, Tahjai Teague added 13 and Sean Sellers had 11 as Ball State knocked off a nationally ranked opponent for the first time since downing No. 4 UCLA 91-73 more than 16 years ago.

Notre Dame (7-2) lost a nonconference home game for the first time since falling to North Dakota State four years ago.

The Cardinals (5-4) led by a high of 67-58 with 6:45 to go, but the Irish charged all the way back to a 77-77 tie on Matt Farrell’s 3-pointer with 20 seconds to go.

Persons then drained his 3-pointer off the dribble for the victory.

“I think we stayed relaxed because as a team, I think we’ve grown a lot,” Persons said. “We know how to play in any moment, and it was rocking in there and that’s a fun environment for anyone to be in.”

Ball State had lost each of nine previous meetings to its in-state rival, the most recent being almost 32 years ago by a 119-78 count. The closest the Cardinals had come against the Irish was 14 points, and ND’s average margin of victory had been 29.

Bonzie Colson led all players with 26 points for the Irish. Farrell added 14 points and eight assists with no turnovers, while Martinas Geben finished with 12 points.

BOARD BATTERING

The Cardinals consistently gave themselves extra opportunities with their crashing of the offensive glass.

Ball State gathered 13 offensive rebounds and turned those into 14 second-chance points, while Notre Dame had just four offensive boards, good for three second-chance points.

“They got us on the backboards,” Irish coach Mike Brey said after his team was outrebounded 40-26 overall. “You know what, give them credit. They played great.”

The rebounding totals landed as they did despite the Cardinals being outboarded 37.1 to 34.8 per game going into the contest and the Irish holding a 35.8 to 33.6 advantage in their games.

IN-STATE STATEMENT

The Cardinals won their fourth straight game, all four coming against in-state opponents, and it shouldn’t be any surprise that Ball State would be stoked for such contests.

The team’s roster includes 11 players hailing from Indiana high schools, easily the most of any Division I program in the state.

Four of those native sons are starters, too, in Persons (Kokomo), Teague (Indianapolis), Sellers (Greensburg) and Kyle Mallers (Fort Wayne).

Persons is a redshirt junior who transferred from Northern Kentucky after his freshman season, while Teague and Mallers are just sophomores. Sellers is a senior.

“I give credit to all our guys,” Persons said. “Every time out, we just tried to settle each other down. . (We) just played to win. That’s what our coach tells us and that’s what we do.”

Under coach James Whitford, Ball State is 46-31 over the last two-plus seasons after going 12-48 over his first two.

BIG PICTURE

Ball State: Ball State’s early season schedule has included road or neutral-site games against Oklahoma, Oregon and Dayton.

Notre Dame: The Irish continue to struggle on the heels of winning the Maui Invitational, dropping their second loss in three games. They were whipped 81-63 last week at Michigan State, then downed St. Francis Brooklyn 71-53 in a rugged contest Sunday that saw Brey ejected for the first time in his 23-year head coaching career.

UP NEXT

Ball State completes its swing of five straight in-state opponents, and plays the first of six straight home games, when Valparaiso (8-0) visits Muncie on Saturday.

In a homecoming for Brey, Notre Dame visits Delaware (4-4) Saturday. Brey began his head coaching career with the Blue Hens, going 99-52 over five seasons, before landing at ND in 2000.

___

More AP college basketball: http://collegebasketball.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_Top25

No. 13 Notre Dame drubs LSU 92-53 to reach Maui title game

Darryl Oumi/Getty Images
1 Comment

LAHAINA, Hawaii (AP) — T.J. Gibbs scored 26 points, Matt Farrell added 17 and Notre Dame dominated LSU 92-53 on Tuesday night to reach the Maui Invitational championship game.

The Irish (5-0) expectedly breezed through their opener against Division II Chaminade did the same thing to LSU in their first game against a power program this season.

Notre Dame shot well, shut the Tigers down on defense and were in control from the opening tip in a superb all-around game.

Bonzie Colson had 12 points and 11 rebounds for the Irish, who shot 52 percent and hit 15 of 32 from 3-point range.

Next up: A top-of-the-marquee title game against No. 6 Wichita State on Wednesday night.

LSU (3-1) lost starting guard Brandon Sampson to an ankle injury in the game’s opening minute and struggled without one of its top defensive players.

The Tigers had trouble slowing the Irish on defense and labored from the perimeter on offense, hitting 6 of 23 shots from the 3-point arc while shooting 36 percent overall. Duop Reath led LSU with 17 points.

LSU beat Michigan 77-75 in its Maui opener behind the stellar play of Tremont Waters. The talented freshman point guard had 21 points and set up the go-ahead basket with a spectacular over-the-shoulder, no-look assist from his knees.

Notre Dame had a much easier road to the semifinals, dominating Chaminade from the start of an 83-56 rout.

The Tigers had a tough break on their first possession of the semifinals, when Sampson came down on someone’s foot and rolled his left ankle. He had to be helped off the court, leaving LSU without arguably its best defensive player.

The Irish took advantage, scoring at the rim and the 3-point arc during a 15-2 run that put them up 25-10. Farrell had the highlight-reel play of the spurt, bouncing a pass between the long legs of 6-foot-11 Reath to set up Martinas Geben for a dunk.

Notre Dame didn’t let up, hitting seven 3-pointers, 15 of 31 shots overall and holding the Tigers to 1-for-8 shooting from the arc for a 40-24 halftime lead.

The Irish continued to stretch the lead in the second half, using a 6-0 burst midway through to go up 61-35.

THE TAKEAWAY

Notre Dame turned its first game against a power program into a laugher with a strong effort on both ends of the court.

LSU was hurt by the loss of Sampson, but it may not have mattered the way the Irish played.

UP NEXT

Notre Dame plays No. 6 Wichita State in Wednesday’s championship game.

LSU gets Marquette in the third-place game on Wednesday.

___

For more AP college basketball coverage: http://collegebasketball.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP_Top25

No. 14 Notre Dame uses red-hot second-half shooting to run past DePaul

(Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Leave a comment

CHICAGO — Notre Dame used red-hot second-half perimeter shooting to run past DePaul for a 72-58 nonconference victory on Saturday afternoon.

The No. 14 Fighting Irish (1-0) started the second half shooting 8-for-10 from the three-point line to blow the game open as sophomore guard T.J. Gibbs paced Notre Dame with a career-high 21 points. Preseason All-American forward Bonzie Colson also contributed a double-double with 18 points and 13 rebounds for the Irish while senior point guard Matt Farrell got hot in the second half to finish with 15 points. Notre Dame shot 14-for-25 in the second half as their offense looked very solid after a bit of a sluggish start.

While we certainly expected Colson and Farrell to be among the best players in the country after the way they played last season, the offensive emergence of Gibbs is the big story for the Fighting Irish. With Notre Dame needing to replace double-figure scorers like V.J. Beachem and Steve Vasturia from last season, Gibbs looked like he might be the consistent third scoring option the Irish were looking for.

“He’s been great in practice. He stats out right behind Bonzie Colson a lot of times. But he’s a fearless guy,” Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey said of Gibbs.

“He’s been unbelievable and he’s been a lot of fun to play with,” Farrell said of Gibbs. “We’ve been saying since the summer that he’s going to have a big year. Strong driver. He shoots it way better than people think and I think you saw that tonight. He’s confident.”

Gibbs never played more than 25 minutes in a game last season as he logged 38 minutes on Saturday. The increased minutes over the course of the season will be something to monitor with Gibbs as Notre Dame’s staff acknowledged that he started to hit the wall towards the end of last season. But Notre Dame’s staff was also confident that Gibbs might be a breakout player when he got in tremendous physical shape this summer. The Fighting Irish don’t seem to have a lot of depth once again this season, so Gibbs will likely need to play heavy minutes and continue to score on a nightly basis for Notre Dame to maximize its potential.

“I just think his mental attitude has really been at a high level. He’s always been a hard worker. He came in the program as a freshman and he was in the gym every day,” Notre Dame assistant coach Ryan Ayers said. “Now he knows he’s a starter and he doesn’t have people backing him up and he’s comfortable in his role. The last couple of weeks he’s been making shots in practice and he has teammates who believe in him.”

Another new starter for Notre Dame, junior guard Rex Pflueger, didn’t find his rhythm on the offensive end but he was a big presence on the defensive end, holding DePaul three-point threat Max Strus (11 points) to a miserable 3-for-13 shooting day. Pflueger also added nine rebounds.

“Me and him talked at halftime. Our shots weren’t falling too well but we talked about how well we were defending and how we could come out in the second half and it was a brand-new half,” Farrell said of Pfluger. “He did an unbelievable job defending and we’re gonna need him to do that all year.”

Freshman wing D.J. Harvey also chipped in seven points in 16 minutes off of the bench as he could be a key reserve to a Notre Dame team that is looking for reliable depth.

If Gibbs can keep scoring like this, it will alleviate a lot of the defensive pressure that Colson faces as he drew constant double-teams against the Blue Demon defense on Saturday. Notre Dame might not have an offense that is as potent as last season’s ridiculous group, but this team might be a notch better defensively thanks to Pflueger’s relentless energy chasing shooters. Pfluger should also be able to improve as at least a catch-and-shoot three-point threat as the Irish once again look like one of the toughest teams in the ACC this season.

“I think it’s safe to say we have a different kind of team this year, a different look,” Farrell said. “We think we can be better defensively, which really showed tonight in the second half.”

DePaul (0-1) opened up its brand-new Wintrust Arena with a feisty first 24 minutes until Notre Dame’s barrage of three-pointers ultimately did them in. Senior forward Tre’Darius McCallum and junior wing Eli Cain paced the Blue Demons with 14 points each. Sophomore point guard Devin Gage looked much-improved from last season as he scored 10 points, doing a good job of attacking the rim with downhill drives.

The Blue Demons look like they’ll be more competitive than in season’s past but they still need more out of their frontcourt in order to be truly competitive in the Big East this season.

Notre Dame adds 2018 four-star forward Nate Laszewski

Leave a comment

Notre Dame pulled in its fourth commitment in the Class of 2018 on Wednesday as four-star forward Nate Laszewski pledged to the Fighting Irish.

The 6-foot-9 Laszewski is regarded as the No. 69 overall prospect in the Rivals national rankings as he’s the highest-rated prospect of the four currently pledged to Notre Dame. After a productive spring and summer on the circuit, Notre Dame is getting a hard-working forward in Laszewski, who also took official visits to Wake Forest and North Carolina.

Skilled enough to stretch the floor a little bit, Laszewski will try to help replace the production of forward Bonzie Colson, who will be exhausting his eligibility after this season.

Laszewski joins four-star guards Prentiss Hubb, Robby Carmody and Dane Goodwin in Notre Dame’s Class of 2018 haul as

Notre Dame adds Class of 2018 shooter Dane Goodwin

(AP Photo/Robert Franklin)
Leave a comment

Notre Dame added to its strong perimeter contingent in the Class of 2018 on Wednesday as the Fighting Irish added top-150 recruit Dane Goodwin.

A former Ohio State commit, the 6-foot-4 Goodwin is regarded as one of the best perimeter shooters in the class as he gives Notre Dame another floor spacer for head coach Mike Brey’s offense. Rivals currently places Goodwin as the No. 123 overall player in the national Class of 2018 rankings while other prominent services have Goodwin as high as four-star status.

The commitment of Goodwin is also intriguing for the Irish since they also own commitments from four-star guards Prentiss Hubb and Robby Carmody. While Hubb will likely run point among that group, Carmody will be the rugged guard who does a bit of everything while Goodwin will be counted on for spacing the floor as a shooter. The three- and four-guard lineup is something that Brey has worked well with the last few seasons, so it appears that he’s following a similar recipe with this class.

 

Notre Dame grabs UConn transfer Juwan Durham

(Photo by Darryl Oumi/Getty Images)
Leave a comment

Notre Dame had landed a transfer big man as former UConn forward Juwan Durham made his commitment to the Fighting Irish official on Saturday morning.

The 6-foot-11 Durham is a former four-star recruit who just finished his freshman season with the Huskies. Durham never established consistent minutes as he averaged 1.6 points and 1.5 rebounds per game. After missing back-to-back seasons with a torn ACL in both of his knees, it was just a positive sign that Durham was able to make it through his freshman season without major injury issues.

Durham will now get a year to sit out and recover even more as he’ll have three years of eligibility left at Notre Dame. It’ll be intriguing to see if Durham can ever regain the form that made him a five-star prospect at one point in high school, but he’ll have to stay healthy.