Notre Dame, IN (Sports Network) - The Notre Dame Fighting Irish will try to
move to 2-0 on the young season when they play host to the Monmouth Hawks as
part of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic.
The Hawks got their season off to a flying start at home on Friday, routing
the Hofstra Pride, 91-62. The victory was just want Monmouth needed, as it
started the 2011-12 season with losses in its first eight games en route to a
12-20 overall record.
Notre Dame tipped off its season on Saturday night, and behind an impressive
effort at the defensive end of the floor, it came away with a 58-49 win over
Evansville. The Irish have now won all 13 season openers under the tutelage of
head coach Mike Brey, and they improved to an incredible 101-7 in their last
108 games at Purcell Pavilion.
Notre Dame has won all four previous matchups between the two programs.
History is not with Monmouth in this one, as it is 0-20 all-time against
ranked teams, and 0-40 against members of the Big East.
Monmouth put together a fantastic all-around effort in the opener, as it
connected on 50 percent of its field goal attempts (36-of-72), 92.3 percent of
its free throws (12-of-13), and drilled seven three pointers. In addition to
an explosive game scoring the ball, the Hawks also shut down Hofstra, holding
it to less than 30 percent shooting while forcing 23 turnovers. Leading the
way was sophomore guard Andrew Nicholas, who netted a career-high 28 points in
just 27 minutes of action. Jesse Steele also put together a strong effort in
the backcourt, scoring 10 points, dishing out six assists and logging four
steals. Gary Cox (10 points) came off the bench and hit all four shots he
attempted. Dion Nesmith finished with just three points, but he figures to be
a crucial part of the team this season after averaging nearly nine points per
game in 2011-12.
It was not the sharpest of outings for Notre Dame in the opener, as it
connected on just 40 percent of its total shots, including 4-of-17 three-
pointers, while committing a game-high 13 turnovers. The good news for the
Irish is that it was able to make up for it by holding Evansville to a lowly
31.1 percent shooting. Jack Cooley scored the team's first nine points, and he
finished with a double-double consisting of 19 points and 11 boards. He also
contributed six blocks and drained a three-pointer. The senior is expected to
be one of the team's top scorers all season now that last year's leading
scorer, Tim Abromaitis (14.0 ppg) has graduated. Jerian Grant was the only
other Irish player to score in double figures with 11 points, which was
actually below his season average in 2011-12 (12.3 ppg). Scott Martin
struggled from the floor (1-of-6), but he counterd his poor shooting by
ripping down 17 rebounds. Eric Atkins also figures to play a huge role this
year after a solid sophomore campaign (12.1 ppg, 4.1 apg). He dished out four
assists in the opener but managed just seven points.
The Sports Network