Notre Dame Basketball Report: Irish Bounce Back, Prepare for ACC

Bonzie Colson scores vs. Colgate. © Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
Bonzie Colson scores vs. Colgate. © Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

A thin schedule leading up to Christmas had the Notre Dame Fighting Irish only taking the court once last week. That home game on December 19 was a contest against the 2-9 Colgate Raiders, which ended with the not surprising score of 77-62 to elevate the Notre Dame mark to 10-2.

Notre Dame Basketball Week in Review

The victory also stopped a two-game losing skid that came against a pair of Top 25 opponents. The Colgate win started out with the Irish running off the first seven points of the game, only to see the Raiders with seven unanswered points of their own. Another tie at nine apiece with 14:28 left in the first half would serve as the turning point of the game.

From that point, Notre Dame went on a 27-11 run for the rest of the half. That defensive performance was explained by the fact that the Irish held Colgate to just 21 percent shooting from the field and 18 percent from long range.

However, the 36-20 halftime lead was the lowest halftime scoring output for Notre Dame this year. It also had an easy explanation: sloppy play, which was most evident in 10 of the team’s 14 turnovers that took place in the opening 20 minutes. The game turnover total also marked a dubious high for a category where the Irish entered the game as the nation’s leader for fewest average errors per game.

Consistency was much more in evidence during the second half, with the Irish never allowing the lead to get below 13 points. The win also kept Notre Dame in the Top 25, helping them move up one spot to No. 24.

Notre Dame Basketball Standouts of the Week

V.J. Beachem

The senior forward used his skills from long range to score a game-high 20 points. With six three-pointers, Beacham topped his previous best in that category, which came in the November 29 win over Iowa when he drilled four on the night. While he also had three steals and a pair of assists, he also closed out the Colgate win with four turnovers.

Bonzie Colson

Colson only played for 25 minutes, but still managed to score 13 points, corral seven boards and dish out three assists. He’s been a perennial on this list since the season began, with his three-for-four night at the foul line representing the best of a quiet night for the Irish at the charity stripe.

Matt Farrell

Ordinarily, his 13 points and seven assists would be noteworthy on their own. However, a poignant scene after the game ended is what people will remember. Farrell and the team watched as his brother, a U.S. Army soldier serving in Afghanistan, wished Notre Dame well of the replay board. Farrell was emotional during the comments, then was shocked when his brother made a surprise appearance onto the court.

A Turnover Blip

The 14 turnovers were likely related reduced concentration toward a weaker opponent after two big games and the close loss to Purdue two days earlier. The Irish will be able to fine tune such issues before conference play gets going.

Notre Dame’s Week Ahead

The final non-conference matchup before ACC action begins takes place on December 28, when the 5-6 St. Peter’s Peacocks come to town in what’s expected to be an easy victory. On New Year’s Eve, the Irish travel to face the Pitt Panthers. They’re also 10-2, not to mention 7-1 on their home court this season.

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  1. I’m a little concerned that there has been a fall-off lately. Frankly, I think they should have steamrolled Colgate. A 15 point win actually made the game somewhat respectable for Colgate. Also, the inability to hold off Purdue is a bad omen. Villanova, that one I could give them a pass for because they have an excellent team and they would have been hard to beat on the best of days.

    But they match up well against Purdue and once they got a decent lead, they should have the players to hold on. I’ve tempered my expectations at this point for ND. I don’t think there’s any doubt they’ll get in the tourney, but the way they are playing, I don’t see another Elite 8 trip unless they fix some of their problems.

  2. Be prepared, We will be Top 25 dropouts after the Panthers maul us on New Years Eve. We just can’t close against a formidable opponent.

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