The Notre Dame Fighting Irish hosted the Southeastern Louisiana Lions from the Southland Conference on Thursday night in their last tune-up game before heading into the holidays and then ACC play. Fun fact: the last time Notre Dame played a team from the Southland Conference was in the second round of the 2016 NCAA tournament. The Irish defeated Stephen F. Austin in a memorable game that night on their way to the Sweet Sixteen and eventually the Elite Eight.
On Thursday, the Irish would flirt with double-digit leads the entire first half, capitalizing on turnovers and pushing the pace. The Lions turned the ball over eight times before a timeout at seven minutes, at which point Notre Dame led by 13. The Lions would make it interesting in the last seven minutes of the first half, cutting the lead to four. But Notre Dame pushed back on offense and went to the locker room at halftime leading 37-29.
The Irish would establish themselves as the better team early on following the break with a 16-0 run, achieving a 25-point lead with 13:30 left. The Lions opened the 2nd half 0-12 from the floor. Notre Dame would push the lead to as much as 38 down the stretch, making the whole thing pretty uninteresting, but in a very good way.
86-50 is your final score, with Notre Dame prevailing.
Rex Pflueger had a career-high 17 points. T.J. Gibbs led the Irish with 18 points, Matt Farrell had 16, and Bonzie Colson had 16 points to go along with 10 rebounds. The Irish could still stand to improve on rebounding, however. They out-rebounded the Lions 47-43 in the game, but it wasn’t until about halfway through the second half that Notre Dame had the advantage on the boards. It’s up to Coach Brey to figure out how to overcome this consistent problem that has cost the Irish wins so far this season.
Looking forward: the Irish will get a visit from the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets on the Saturday before New Year’s (December 30th) to open ACC play.