Photo by Rick Kimball/ISD
Notre Dame Basketball

Notre Dame Cruises To 84-63 Win In NIT Opener

March 13, 2018

Hosting a game for the NIT tournament rather than traveling to play in the Round of 64 in the March Madness tournament could’ve taken a toll on the Irish, but early on and throughout it showed, Notre Dame led by a mature group of seniors were just happy to have the chance to play into March.

The three-point line extended, free-throw lane widen, two halves turned into four quarters and changes in the shot clock. The experimental rules didn’t affect Notre Dame in their NIT first-round contest against Hampton.

"You have to start somewhere in this tournament," stated Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey. "I thought we were excited to play and got over not making the NCAA Tournament. I thought we defend well against a pretty good offensive group.

“We’re thrilled we play at Noon on Saturday.”

After going into the fourth quarter with a 23-point lead, the Irish coasted to an 84-63 finish. The Irish scoring ended with back to back walk-on buckets by Matt Gregory and Liam Nelligan.

Martinas Geben and TJ Gibbs paced the Irish. Geben ended with 18 points and six rebounds, and Gibbs finished with 17 points and six rebounds. Bonzie Colson added 14 points and 12 rebounds. Notre Dame dominated the paint outscoring Hampton 42-26. The Irish also shot 42 percent from the field to the Pirates 30 percent.

“We were good yesterday. Guys were bouncing around and practice was good. We went to dinner last night and they are getting on each other. Kids are amazingly resilient. They helped the old coach stay resilient when you see that kind of vibe coming off of them.”

“Our seniors are men. They want to keep playing.”

Jermaine Marrow scored team-high 21 points for Hampton. Marrow also added nine rebounds and seven assists.

6:36 to go in the third quarter, Matt Farrell ran the court and found a trailing Geben with a behind the back pass for an open dunk and the foul. Geben hit the free-throw to open the third quarter on a 9-2 run and extend the lead back to 19-points. Wilson-Fisher ended the Pirates scoring drought with a deep-three on their next possession to make it 55-39.

The Irish responded with a 6-0 run after a Rex Pflueger triple and extended their lead to 22, their largest of the night. Hampton responded scoring two lay-ups on their next two possessions, by Marrow and Fisher. The Irish outscored the Pirates 18-9 in the third and led by 23 going into the fourth, 66-43 after a Gibbs lay-up with 44 seconds to go in the quarter.

Geben and Gibbs combined for 35-points, 18 and 17 respectively. Bonzie ended the third quarter with his 44th career double-double with 10-points and 10-rebounds.

Dominance in the paint helped Notre Dame take control of the game in the second quarter. The Irish opened the first six minutes of the quarter on a 16-4 run to extend their lead to 19, 39-20. Matt Farrell forced a timeout with a deep three-pointer just past the newly acquainted arch to extend the run.  

"Practicing and playing tonight, it does open the floor some more," Brey said of the wider lane. "You saw post players that caught the ball further away from the bucket. You saw great cuts down the lane because there was room. I thought we got more of it because they were catching it further out and there was more room to cut to the bucket.”

Hampton bounced back with an out fashioned three by Trevond Barnes and a long-fading three by Fisher.

After back to back buckets by Hampton, the Irish bounced back and scored on their next two possessions to push their lead by to 18-points, 44-26. Bonzie Colson hit a post-fade jumper and to force a Hampton timeout, Gibbs continued his hot shooting hitting his third triple of the night to extend the lead.

Out of the timeout Hampton began to push the pace, Barnes started the run hitting one of his two free-throw attempts, and Wilson-Fisher forced an Irish timeout to conclude an 8-0 run to cut the lead to just 10, 44-34 with a jumper.

After the timeout with one possession before going into the half, Austin Torres gave Notre Dame some momentum with a two-handed dunk. This gave the Irish a 46-34 lead going into halftime.

TJ Gibbs led all scorers with 15 first half points. Martinas Geben added 11-points. Notre Dame dominated the paint and outrebounded Hampton 26-19 in the first half and are shooting 47 percent from the field.

Getting to the bucket was the primary focus for the Irish early on. After a quick bucket by Jermaine Marrow for Hampton, Notre Dame quickly answered with a Geben dunk on the other end. The Irish quickly pushed the lead to 6-2 after a reverse lay-up by TJ Gibbs and another dunk by big-man Geben.  After a lay-up by Marrow, the Irish made a couple more buckets in the paint, coming from Gibbs and Geben respectively.

Hampton rallied back with a pair of free-throws from Marrow and a lay-up by Wilson-Fisher. This forced a timeout with 4:44 to go in the first quarter. Out of the timeout, Gibbs hit the first three-pointer of the night a step behind the longer arch. Gibbs sparked a 12-4 run until Hampton goes a bucket after almost two scoreless minutes on a Kalin Fisher jumper.

Notre Dame dominated the paint in the first quarter scoring 14-points in the paint. The Irish also moved the ball well for easy looks. They recorded six assists in the first quarter. Geben was the go-to scorer in the quarter, he tallied nine-points. Gibbs added seven points.

Irish Sports Daily
Final Box Score 


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