Photo by Rick Kimball/ISD
Notre Dame Basketball

Irish Roll Orange 84-66

January 21, 2017

The No. 15 Notre Dame (17-3, 6-1) took on the unranked Syracuse Orange (11-7, 3-4) Saturday afternoon at Purcell Pavilion. The Irish used a dominant second half to down the Orange 84-66 behind a career-high 30 points from V.J. Beachem.

The Irish outscored Syracuse 43-34 in the second half, shooting 49.2 percent for the game while 'Cuse shot 41.8 percent. Bonzie Colson put up another double double with 14 points and 14 boards. Tyler Lydon led the Orange with 24 points in the loss.

"I think our defense was really the key today," Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey stated. "We had a field goal percentage for most of the game, I think they finished at 41 percent. We talked about it and I was pleased to see us really get back to defending.

"We were really good in attacking their zone and we have a lot of basketball IQ guys that can pass, catch and make a shot. That’s the recipe for successfully attacking the zone. It was a great win for us to get to 6-1 in this league." 

The Irish opened the half on a 9-2 run as Beachem hit the 20-point mark on three-pointer and Matt Farrell found a driving Austin Torres for a transition bucket. They led 52-37 going into the first TV timeout of the half.

The teams traded baskets in the next few minutes but the Orange couldn't make too much headway as they didn't get much closer than 13 points from the Irish. Beachem set a new career-high in points with 24 with a nice driving layup. The lead was still 13 at the next media timeout 58-45.

The lead ballooned to 18 as the Irish started to impose their will with some offensive rebounds and easy buckets. Syracuse however, wouldn't go away as they scored on back to back shots. The Irish got a little too laid back which kept the Orange within striking distance.

VJ was fabulous. - Mike Brey
Beachem added to his career game with another long three to get the lead back up to 17 with about eight minutes to go. Colson quietly continued his solid afternoon with a jumper and a few free throws to give him 12 points to go along with nine rebounds. With his sixth three of the game, Beachem hit the 30-point mark, continuing his career afternoon. The Irish led 73-56 with 5:11 to play.

"VJ was fabulous," said Brey. "That one had been growing for a while. I thought he moved himself and we found him in a different spots."

The Irish started hot from the field as they took a 12-4 lead following a Colson layup. The Irish were four for seven from the field and used a 7-0 run to grab the early advantage. Syracuse started very cold, just two for nine from the field. After the hot start, Irish started to turn the ball over and miss shots they usually make which prevented them from breaking the game open. They turned the ball over five times in under five minutes and had a three-minute scoring drought.

The home crowd was into the game early and often, which Brey felt was a huge positive.

"Our crowd was so good without the students to get us the Clemson and Louisville wins," Brey said. "I was excited and our students couldn’t wait to see us. They have been watching us roll on break and they were fabulous, as was the rest of the building. I have to believe that we will be sold out the rest of the way." 

That gives us such confidence. It really energized us.

Farrell broke the drought with a layup off a heads up steal by Rex Pflueger. The Irish led 18-12 at the midway point of the half as their shooting percentage dropped to 39%. Two huge Beachem slams got the crowd back into the game as they had been quiet up to that point. Beachem drilled back-to-back threes as the Irish opened up a 12-point lead, using an 8-0 run to take their largest lead of the afternoon. The Irish led 26-17 going into the under eight-minute TV timeout. 

Beachem continued his red-hot first half with another three-pointer to give him 17 for the half. The Irish led 33-22 going into the final TV timeout of the half with 3:40 left. Two deep threes by Farrell extended the lead to 15, the largest of the game for the Irish. The Irish led 41-32 at the half, shooting 45.2 percent compared to 37 percent for the Orange. Lydon led Syracuse with 12 points while Beachem was the scoring leader with 17.

Player of the Game: Beachem, he set a career high with 30 points on 12-22 shooting, 6-10 from three to go along with seven rebounds.

Turning Point:
With the Irish off to a sluggish start in the first half. V.J. Beachem got the crowd going with a couple of huge dunks.

WHAT'S NEXT: Notre Dame will host No. 16 Virginia on Tuesday at 8:00 p.m.
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