Photo by Rick Kimball/ISD
Notre Dame Basketball

Notre Dame Ready to Start ACC Play with 63-55 Win over Saint Peter's

December 28, 2016

NOTRE DAME, Ind. –  Notre Dame (11-2) cruised to a 63-55 victory over Saint Peter’s (5-7) on Wednesday evening in the final tune up before ACC play starts this weekend. The Peacocks couldn’t stop Irish forward VJ Beachem, as the senior ended the game with 18 points.

"I think it will be a reference point game for us, because it’s exhausting playing defense and it effects your offense," Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey said. "It was good and we did enough to escape.

"They are Virginia-like on both ends of the floor. They really jam it in on defense and grind you on offense. They are tough to play against, because you’re guarding for 25 seconds every possession and then if you’re offensive efficiency isn’t great, then you can’t get away from them."

Quadir Welton entered the game averaging 14 points a night for Saint Peter’s but he was held to five points on just 2 of 11 from the floor.

Nick Griffin led the Peacocks with 16 points in an slow paced offensive game.

"That was definitely burning on offense," stated Brey. "I never thought we were going to get it to 20, because there aren’t that many possessions. Of course when we turn it over 14 times, my gosh, there is pressure." 

After scoring just four points in the first half, Steve Vasturia helped Notre Dame open up its 10-point halftime lead to a 16-point advantage by scoring seven points in the first eight minutes of the second half.

Vasturia finished with 11 points, four rebounds and three assists.

After leading by as many as 18 in the second half, the Irish saw the lead get trimmed to nine points with 4:06 seconds left to play. Notre Dame would get hit its free throws to put the game on ice after some sloppy play by the Irish.

"I thought we were pretty poised and calm," stated Brey. "You couldn’t really get away from them. It was always hanging around and you had to make enough plays to do it. I love them. I love getting in there with them every day."

The Irish defense showed up in the first half, as it has throughout each home game this season. Notre Dame held Saint Peter’s to scoring droughts of 4:11, 3:08 and 2:13 in the opening 20 minutes.

Beachem came out aggressive in the first half and scored 12 points, which included two three-pointers. Notre Dame didn’t have another scorer over four points at halftime, as Pflueger, Vasturia, Colson and Geben all had four.

Eight of Beachem’s points came in the first seven minutes of the game to give Notre Dame an early 15-9 lead.

Matt Ryan came in off the bench to extend the Notre Dame led to double-digits at 22-11 on three and then Geben crushed a dunk home to give the Irish a 26-12 lead.

However, that was about as exciting as it got for either side, as Notre Dame took a 33-23 lead into the half.

Welton led the Peacocks with five points and five boards in the first 20 minutes.

The Irish offense was sluggish, yet they were effective by shooting 57 percent from the field and hit on 44 percent from behind the arc.  

PLAYER OF THE GAME: VJ Beachem. The senior finished as the leading scorer for the Irish, but more importantly he came out aggressive. Beachem took eight shots in the first half and got the Irish off to a good start. The Fort Wayne native even hit a running floater from the baseline for his first bucket on the game's second possession.

STAT LINE OF THE GAME: Rebounds. Notre Dame held a 37-28 advantage on the glass on Wednesday night. Saint Peter's got just six offensive rebounds on the night and in an eight-point game, it was one of the differences in the game.

TURNING POINT: Leading by 10 points at halftime, Steve Vasturia and Matt Farrell hit back-to-back three-pointers to open the second half to push the lead to 39-23 with less than two minutes into the half.

WHAT’S NEXT: Notre Dame will kick off ACC play at Pittsburgh (11-2) on Saturday. Tip is set for 2:00 p.m.
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