During a game in which they led from the tip to the final buzzer, the Notre Dame Men's Basketball team took care of business against the Coppin State Eagles to the tune of a 104-67 rout. For the second game in a row, Zach Auguste led the Irish in scoring with a career-high 21 points. The 6'10" junior forward was a perfect 9-9 from the floor and added 7 rebounds and an assist to his totals. Sophomore V.J. Beachem was a close second with 19 points and 2 defensive boards while shooting 5-6 from the 3-point line. Due to their effective shooting, the Irish were able to maintain a comfortable lead throughout the game, and prevented the Eagles from substantially closing the gap.
The Irish took advantage of some early turnovers to mount an early lead, which they would never relinquish. In attempt the counter the Irish advantage in size and athleticism, Coppin State committed to a press defense throughout much of the game. Several sharp, long passes and team speed allowed Notre Dame to counter with points on the other end while defenders were out of position. At the half, with the score sitting at 53-23, the Irish were shooting 71.4% (20-28) from the floor and 62.5% (5-8) from beyond the arc.
Notre Dame's offense was equally potent in the second half, putting up 51 points in the period. With 17:12 left in the second, Auguste and sophomore Demetrius Jackson (10 points, 4 assists) scored some style points with a nice toss and slam:
The Irish executed another slick play with 8:22 left in the half when Jackson dished to Grant, who connected with Zach Auguste for the dunk. Notre Dame finished the game shooting 65.5% (40-61) from the field and 47.4% (9-19) from three.
While Auguste and V.J. Beachem both had big nights in the stats column, Jerian Grant was the man pulling all the right strings. The senior guard finished 15 points, 8 assists and a pair of steals and rebounds. Throughout the night, he moved the ball with precision and fluidity, set on finding the open man with the best shot.
Due to the level of competition, it is somewhat difficult to evaluate Notre Dame's defense from a prognosticator's perspective. Early in the game, they played an aggressive man-to-man defense that was extremely effective. Roughly two-thirds of the way through the first half, they switched to a more passive 2-3 zone and remained in that alignment for the rest of the game. Coppin State was forced to take many long 3's throughout the game and for the most part, could not buy a basket. With 6:59 left in the first half, the Eagles were 0-10 from long range and would not sink their first three-ball until 1:39 in the first. Not to be deterred by their lack of production in the first half, Coppin State finished with 35 3-point attempts, making only 9 for a 25.7% mark.
The Irish defense was clearly effective at preventing the Eagles from penetrating, but was somewhat lackluster when the ball made it into the paint. Notre Dame finished with 32 defensive rebounds, but many of these came off long 3-point attempts without an opposing player near the basket. Zach Auguste and Pat Connaughton, who turned in a quiet 8-point performance, both blocked a shot as the Irish accumulated 5 blocks on the night. Towards the end of the game, Coppin State was able to add to their point total with a few put-backs that one would have hoped ND would have defended better. Given the point differential at that stage of the game, lapses in interior defense should not be overly concerning.
- Even though Coppin State never really pressured the Irish offense, fans should be excited about the smoothness with which the offense operates under the guiding hand of Jerian Grant and the confident 3-point shooting displayed by the entire team. Both of these can translate into high-level performance against much tougher teams.
- The defense was not lights-out, but played solidly. A larger sample size is needed to evaluate this group however, fans should keep on eye on its play under the basket.
- Of the five starters, three (Auguste, Jackson, and Grant) put up double digits for points. Steve Vasturia and Pat Connaughton both came close with 9 and 8 points, respectively.
- Off the bench, V.J. Beachem and freshman Martinas Geben (12 points) were the most productive. Freshman Bonzie Colson played some significant minutes, finishing with 5 points. Matt Farrell, Matt Gregory, both freshmen, sophomore Austin Torres, and junior Eric Katenda all made it onto the floor. Austin Burgett did not play.
- With last night's victory, Notre Dame moved to 3-0 for the first time in three years. Thus far the wins have come against somewhat inferior opponents, but the Irish have not faltered and have looked more than competent.