Photo by Rick Kimball/ISD
Notre Dame Basketball

Irish Get Back on Track with 88-81 Win Over Wake Forest

February 7, 2017
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Notre Dame (18-7, 7-5) got a much needed win 88-81 over Wake Forest (14-10, 5-7) on Tuesday night after losing four-straight games. Bonzie Colson wasn’t about to let Notre Dame lose five in row.

"When adversity hits, we have to get over that edge and we did that," Colson said after the game. "It feels good, but we have a lot of work to do and we have a tough one on Saturday." 

The junior forward recorded a season-high 27 points to go with 16 rebounds and five blocks to out do the 24 points and 14 rebounds from Wake Forest’s John Collins.

With Notre Dame up five VJ Beachem hit a three-pointer to push the Irish lead to 72-66 and two free throws by Colson made the Irish lead eight points with just over four minutes to play.

"Man we needed that," Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey said. 'We needed that. They are really good and they are a NCAA Tournament team. They are gifted offensively and it’s so good to see 88 on the board for us.

"I am really proud of our group because nothing was flowing great. IT was kind of a choppy game, but we got it going in the second half scoring 52. The seniors stepped up and made some big shots." 

Beachem finished the night with 19 points, which included five triples.

Wake Forest trimmed the lead to 76-74 after a three-pointer and a jumper from Austin Arians, but Steve Vasturia answered Arians run with a three of his own to push the Notre Dame lead to 79-74 with 1:45 left to play.

Matt Farrell nailed a dagger from downtown with under a minute to play to put it out of reach for the Demon Deacons. Farrell finished with 16 points and six assists.

Notre Dame was able to close out the game from the free throw line shooting 81% (17-21).

Wake Forest opened up a nine-point lead in the second half, but it was short-lived as Vasturia and Beachem hit three-point shots 22 seconds apart to bring Notre Dame within 45-42.

Then facing a 50-42 deficit, Colson and Farrell hit back-to-back threes to pull the Irish within two points at 50-48. However, Colson wasn’t done just yet as the junior forward knocked in a jumper and another triple to give the Irish a 56-54 lead. 

"He's fearless," Brey said of Colson. "We have guys that want to take big shots when there is game pressure on them. We have four guys that will do it. That’s really a great weapon to have."

Vasturia had been in a slump as of late but opened the scoring with a three-point play for the Irish. The senior guard proceeded to hit a three to give Notre Dame a 12-9 lead with 12:52 left the opening half.

Wake Forest started the game going 1-for-9, but it was a strange first half altogether as neither team seemed to pull away and the much smaller Irish had five blocks before the midway point in the half.

The Demon Deacons would go on a quick 9-0 run with buckets by Collins and a three-pointer by Crawford to take an 18-14 lead. Arians would push the run to 12-2 over 3:10 with a three-pointer and Wake Forest led 21-16 with 7:55 left before halftime.

Colson countered the run with two buckets, including a beautiful up and under move. However, it was time for Farrell and Beachem to rise up with back-to-back threes to cap an 8-0 run to give Notre Dame a 27-23 lead.

Wake Forest answered the Irish run with a 10-0 run over the next 2:38 to take a 33-27 advantage. Beachem and Woods traded triples in the final minutes of the first half and the Demon Deacons took a 41-36 lead into the half.

Colson led Notre Dame with 11 points and five rebounds, while Beachem chipped in 10 points in the first half.

Wake Forest was led by 12 points from Collins and 11 points from Crawford.

PLAYER OF THE GAME: Bonzie Colson. 27 points, 16 rebounds and five blocks. I don’t need to say more.

STAT LINE OF THE GAME: The Irish aren’t known as a shot-blocking team, but on Tuesday night, Notre Dame recorded 12 blocks for the game. 

"12 blocks," stated Brey. "We were rejecting stuff."

TURNING POINT: Notre Dame hit four three-pointers in a four-minute span to give them a 56-54 lead with 11:34 left in the game. Bonzie Colson hit two threes, while Farrell and Beachem nailed shots one each during the run.

WHAT’S NEXT: Notre Dame will get a much-needed break until Saturday when No. 14 Florida State travels to Purcell Pavilion for a 6:00 p.m. ET tip on ESPN.

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