The Notre Dame Fighting Irish blew out the Hampton Pirates this evening, opening NIT play with a 84 to 63 win over the #8 seed from the MEAC.
Martinas “The Bird Whisperer” led the way for ND, scoring 18 points and grabbing 6 rebounds while shooting 7-of-9 from the field. TJ Gibbs scored 17 points and had 6 rebounds while shooting 7-of-13, and BONZIE COLSON added his usual double-double of 14 points and 12 boards. Matt Farrell also chipped in 9 points and 6 assists, Nik Djogo had 7 and 9, and Rex Pflueger had 7 rebounds and 6 assists.
The Irish shot 42% from the field and 26% from deep while also out-rebounding Hampton 55 to 49. The Pirates, meanwhile, shot 30% from the field and 23% from deep, led by Jermaine Marrow with 21 points, 7 assists, and 9 rebounds, and Kalin Fisher, who finished with 12 and 7.
The game began about how everyone expected, with the Irish taking an early lead and then really pushing that lead further in the 2nd quarter (this game had quarters — the NIT will feature a bunch of experimental rule changes, including quarters, extended three point lines, shot clocks resetting to 20 on offensive rebounds, etc.). Notre Dame led 46-34 at the half after Hampton mounted a small run to keep themselves within striking distance.
In the second half, it was really more of the same, as the Irish gradually extended their lead with the occasional bucket from Hampton interspersed amongst the ND baskets. COLSON completed his 34th career double-double, Gibbs and Geben continued to add to their great scoring nights, both Matt Gregory and Liam Nelligan got themselves buckets in garbage time, and Notre Dame ran away with it, winning 84 to 63.
The Irish move on to the second round of the NIT, where they will face either the Penn State Nittany Lions or Temple Owls, who play tomorrow night in the 4/5 matchup.