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Notre Dame Basketball

Marquette Breaks Notre Dame's Spirit 79-64 in Sunday Clash

December 11, 2022

Marquette (8-3) came to Purcell Pavilion and made a statement by handling Notre Dame (7-3) 79-64 on Sunday afternoon. 

Kam Jones led the Golden Eagles with 25 points as he hit four triples on the day, but it was Marquette’s ability to control the paint that led to the blowout. 

Marquette outscored the Irish 50-22 in the paint and won the glass 41-32. Mike Brey’s squad had no answer for Jones or Marquettes athleticism and length for much of the game. 

“They are really good and between ball pressure and speed off the dribble, which is our Achilles heel, we really didn’t have many answers,” stated Brey. “You have to give them credit. The physical, athletic defense pushing you out kind of sets the tone. Staying in front of drivers when we switch is going to be hard. 

“We are who we are right now.” 

Notre Dame knew Shaka Smart’s team would come with an aggressive press and push them of the three-point line, but the ability to drive past defenders was the story of the game. Marquette broke Notre Dame’s will and Brey fully admitted it.  

“It’s just demoralizing when they keep coming at your throat like that,” Brey explained. “They got the dudes to do it. They just have speed and rotation. Then it breaks you’re spirit. It’s spirit breaking.”

Forward Nate Laszewski led the Irish with 20 points and seven boards, but only JJ Starling joined him in double figures as the freshman guard added 12 points. 

The Irish did hit 10-of-25 from three, but Brey’s strategy of giving up more twos than threes didnt’ pay off as Marquette got anything they wanted. 

“A lot of it wasn’t necessarily on our bigs,” Brey said of the Irish defense. "It was their guard driving. As I sit here and talk to you, you can only play the 2 versus 3 game so much. The first half it worked out pretty good because they had 34 points. They only made two threes. Maybe we can get on an offensive run. 

“We just could never score. I know they scored 79, but I look at our offense. If can’t score more against speed. How many around the bucket did we not finish? We get frazzled a little bit because of the athletic ability. When you get in there, you have to make them pay more.” 

How does the offense get better? Brey is putting a lot of hope in the grad transfer guard Marcus Hammond, who scored eight points and pulled down four rebounds to go with three assists. 

Hammond is coming off an MCL sprain has flashed in the three games he’s been back, but he could get his bulky knee brace off this week, which could be a mental boost for him. 

“Marcus Hammond played 23 minutes and he’s coming,” stated Brey. “I think there’s a great chance we get that brace off him on Friday. He is a guard that can get in the lane and make some plays. He’s still feeling his way and he’s still getting there. 

“We get that brace off him and get him two good practices, he’s going to be a key for us. He can get into the lane and make some plays. I thought JJ (Starling) got into the lane and made some plays for us.” 

Marquette fans took over the arena at times during the second half and there wasn’t anything Notre Dame could do. The game staff turned up the music at times to drown out the crowd during a timeout, but the play left a lot to be desired as the Irish lost almost every major statistical category. 

“You have to overall be better especially defensively,” stated Laszewski. “Coach always talks about no matter what happens offensively, we have to get back and guard. Sometimes we had some breakdowns today. We just gotta keep getting better as a team. We have the tools to do it and we’ve done it before.” 

Brey knew this would be a tough one for Notre Dame as he mentioned it on Wednesday night. However, Brey knew Marquette was going to be handful two weeks ago after then No. 6 Baylor fell 96-70 to the Golden Eagles. 

“I watched them play Baylor two weeks ago against Baylor,” said Brey. “I turned it off because I thought they could that to us and they did.” 

Notre Dame will not do anything basketball related until Thursday as the Irish have exams this week. It will give the team some time reflect on Sunday’s loss, but also to get rest before a road trip to Atlanta to play Georgia next Sunday at 5:30 pm ET. 

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