Notre Dame men’s basketball fended off a scrappy Youngstown State team Sunday afternoon. It was a balanced scoring effort for the Irish as every starter finished in double figures.
It was back-and-forth from the outset as the Irish (2-0) and Penguins (2-1) traded buckets to a 9-9 tie at the first break in action. Graduate student forward Nate Laszewski and freshmen guard J.J. Starling each converted on layups and graduate student guard Trey Wertz chipped in with a seven-point run straddling the first media timeout.
In a shocking move, before the second media timeout, head coach Mike Brey decided to go two-deep deep on his bench. Junior forward Matt Zona saw his first action of the season and immediately set up graduate student guard Cormac Ryan for a three that stretched Notre Dame’s lead to 19-15.
Halfway through the opening period, a jumper by graduate student wing Dane Goodwin and a transition three by Laszewski forced a Youngstown State timeout as Notre Dame took a 24-17 lead. The Irish opened shooting 10-14 from the floor and 3-4 from distance, and finished the half making 63% of their shots. Laszewski led with 12 points and four rebounds while Starling and Wertz had nine points apiece at the intermission.
Despite balanced offensive output by the Irish, they couldn’t build a lead greater than nine points in the first half and took a 43-36 edge into halftime. The Penguins hung around thanks to near-50% shooting (15 of 31), crashing the glass (six offensive rebounds) and a strong performance by graduate student forward Adrian Nelson (16 points and 7 rebounds).
After a frenetic start to the second half, freshman forward Ven-Allen Lubin converted on back-to-back buckets to give Notre Dame its first double-digit lead of the game at 55-45 with just under 15:00 remaining. But Youngstown State refused to go quietly.
Nelson converted back-to-back buckets to cut the lead to six. Lubin eventually connected on a three to make it 60-51 in favor of the Irish, but Nelson answered yet again with a three of his own, reaching 25 points for the contest.
A Penguins three-point play cut the lead to three, but Ryan responded with three free throws after being fouled beyond the arc. Ryan answered another Youngstown State three-pointer with a three-point play of his own to put the Irish up 66-62 with 7:45 left in the game.
As persistent as the Penguins were, the Irish never faltered. After Youngstown State made it 70-69, a layup by Wertz, a jumper by Goodwin and a Ryan steal leading to a Starling layup gave the Irish some breathing room at 76-69. It once again became a one-possession game, but Starling nailed a three-pointer to make it 79-73. On the very next possession, Starling knocked down yet another three with the shot clock winding down to make it 82-75.
After converting a dunk with 1:11 to go, the Penguins elected not to foul. Wertz took it to the basket to make it 84-77 with 39 seconds left. One Youngstown State miss later and Laszewski secured his 10th rebound for a second-straight double-double, then headed to the free throw stripe for his first points of the second-half. Ryan topped it off at the line as the Irish wrapped up an 88-81 win.
Final Stats (via Bleacher Report):
- Nate Laszewski: 14 PTS, 10 REB, 1 BLK, 2 TO, 5-8 FG, 1-1 3PT, 3-3 FT
- Dane Goodwin: 17 PTS, 7 REB, 3 AST, 3 TO, 8-13 FG, 1-2 3PT
- Trey Wertz: 15 PTS, 3 REB, 3 AST, 2 STL, 2 TO, 6-9 FG, 1-4 3PT, 2-2 FT
- Cormac Ryan: 16 PTS, 3 REB, 2 AST, 2 STL, 1 TO, 4-8 FG, 1-3 3PT, 7-7 FT
- J.J. Starling: 17 PTS, 4 REB, 1 AST, 6-13 FG, 3-4 3PT, 2-3 FT
- Ven-Allen Lubin: 9 PTS, 4 REB, 1 AST, 2 BLK, 3 TO, 4-4 FG, 1-1 FT
- Matt Zona: 1 AST