The Notre Dame Fighting Irish and Purdue Boilermakers faced off this afternoon in the first game of the Crossroads Classic, live from Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. The two teams came in evenly matched, with Notre Dame sitting at 6-3, and Purdue at 6-4. Purdue started the game with the first basket, and then got the ball back from Notre Dame and followed up with a three to go up by 5; but the Irish responded with a basket of their own, and then evened the score pretty quickly with a big three by TJ Gibbs, Jr. With 11:38 left in the first half, Notre Dame was up by four points, 20-16.
From that point on, Purdue had a tough time keeping up with Notre Dame’s speed. With 8:13 remaining in the first half, Notre Dame was on a 14-2 run, which forced Purdue to call a timeout and regroup. Rex Pflueger had an season/career high 7 assists in the first half, and the team as a whole played very well. Harvey had 7 points and 2 rebounds, Gibbs had 6 points, 2 rebounds and one assist, and Pflueger had 5 points, two rebounds and 7 assists.
The telling percentage from the first half was field goal completions. Notre Dame made 54.2% of their field goals in the first half, to Purdue only making 33% of their field goals. And Notre Dame was solid from the line, making 100% of their free throws, to Purdue only making 75% of their shots from the line.
The two teams headed to the locker room at half, with Notre Dame up by seven points, 36-29.
Purdue started out the second half with the ball, but quickly turned it over, recovered by Notre Dame. However, Notre Dame wasn’t able to hang onto the ball, and Purdue quickly got the ball back and Edwards made an quick basket for two points. Notre Dame then responded with back-to-back three point shots by Mooney. Dane Goodwin makes a basket inside the paint with 15:33 remaining in the half and drew the foul, sending him to the line, where he missed the chance for the three-point play. Notre Dame with the lead, 44-38. Harvey then lights up the court with back-to-back three point shots, to keep the Notre Dame momentum strong.
Notre Dame seemed to be rolling along quite nicely, up by twelve points with 6:52 remaining, and then the wheels started to come off the bus a bit. Rex Pflueger suffered a mid-air collision, went down holding his knee, and was subsequently helped off the court and to the locker room by two team trainers. The Boilermakers got within seven points, and then Harvey made a three to bring the Irish back to a ten point lead, 71-61, with 3:21 remaining in the half.
The Irish and the Boilermakers continued to trade points, but Notre Dame held strong trying to control the pace of the game. With 2:06 remaining, and ND up by eight, Notre Dame tried to make a two-point shot and was solidly defended by Purdue. Mooney then went for three, and sunk it with ease, returning the lead to ten 74-64. Purdue’s Trevon Williams made a quick response, with a two point jump shot, cutting the Notre Dame lead to eight. 74-66 with 1:39 remaining.
Purdue frantically tried to slow Notre Dame’s momentum, and Mooney was fouled by Eifert with 1:32 remaining. Mooney heads to the free throw line, making both shots, to increase the Irish lead to 10 points, 76-66. Then, Notre Dame’s Hubb is fouled and heads to the line making both of his shots as well. Now it’s hurry up time for Purdue, heading down court but missing the two point bucket. Notre Dame gets the ball and Gibbs is fouled and heads to the line, making the first shot but missing the second. Purdue heads down court, making a quick two point shot and then takes their last timeout, with the score Notre Dame 79 - Purdue 71.
Purdue gave it their all, but just couldn’t keep up with Notre Dame’s speed and field goal percentages. Notre Dame ended the game with some impressive shooting percentages. ND completed 52% of their field goals (to Purdue’s 42.9%), 52.4% from three-point range (to Purdue’s 31%), and completed 86.2% of their free throws (to Purdue’s 61%).
Today’s win improves Notre Dame’s record to 7-3, and Purdue’s record to 6-5. Brey commented that his team played like “older guys” today. “Our old guys played old, and our young guys played old.” No news yet on Rex Pflueger, but coach has his fingers crossed that it’s nothing serious.
Cheers & GO IRISH!