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Notre Dame vs. Dartmouth: What We Learned

Once again, it wasn’t pretty, but the Irish are back in the win column.

NCAA Basketball: Dartmouth at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Well, it’s definitely not where the Notre Dame Fighting Irish want to be at this point in the season, but a win is a win, right?

After another loss to an unranked team over the weekend, which knocked them out of the AP Top-25, the Irish bounced back with a slightly underwhelming 97-87 win at home over the Dartmouth Big Green. Here is what we think we learned from last night’s victory:

Bonzie is angry, and you won’t like Bonzie when he’s angry

Dartmouth isn’t a good team as it is, but when forward Evan Boudreaux, the top rebounder in the Ivy League last year, transferred to Xavier just days before the season started, it left a gaping hole beneath the rim for Big Green. Big Bonzie lived in that hole all night.

Bonzie Colson’s 35 points was the most by a Notre Dame player since Luke Harangody in 2010, and of course he grabbed his usual 10 boards to complete another double-double. Simply put, Colson was playing like a madman last night.

When the Irish were having trouble holding one of their many leads in the second half, Colson hit back-to-back threes to keep the Big Green at arm’s length and avoid another early season catastrophe. Colson did most of his damage beneath the rim, with his usual circus shots in one-on-one coverage in full effect. The way the Irish are playing right now, they need this version of Colson every game, fair or not.

Perimeter defense, where art thou?

Defending the three-point line has been an issue for the Irish since their first Elite Eight run in 2015, and man was it a problem last night. Dartmouth hit 15 triples last night, which tied for the most allowed by an Irish team since Mike Brey took over as head coach almost two decades ago.

Many of the Big Green’s three-pointers came in the final five minutes of the second half when the Irish were trying to pull away. A quick 13-3 run by Dartmouth turned what should have been an easy finish into another nervous conclusion, which wouldn’t have been necessary if the Irish defenders played a little tighter on the ball, especially around the arc. If that isn’t cleaned up by the time ACC play starts, the Irish will be in loads of trouble, no matter how many points Colson scores.

The Irish don’t belong in the Top-25

It was frustrating to see the Irish slide out of the AP rankings on Monday, especially since they were ranked as high as fifth after a win over Wichita State just weeks ago. However, the reality is that the Irish are not playing like a great team right now, and the win against the Shockers feels like a long time ago.

It was nice to get a win after the sour taste of the Crossroads Classic loss, but it was hardly a convincing win. This was a Dartmouth team that has lost to teams like Quinnipiac, yet it took almost the entire game for Notre Dame to put them away. It’s better for a slump like this to happen before conference play begins, but last night’s win wasn’t much of a sign that the Irish are out of their funk.