Bricklayer's Convention

Notre Dame advances to Sunday's championship game thanks to quality defense and an all-time terrible shooting performance by the California Golden Bears.

To say the first half of Friday night's 57-44 semi-final win by Notre Dame over the California Golden Bears set basketball back 50 years would be short-changing the great players of the early 60s.

Jerry West never shot like that. Neither, likely, did anyone the star of yesteryear knew or associated with.

It probably was good defense by the Irish, but as game color commentator Len Elmore noted, it wasn't anything to write home about, either.

The Golden Bears, a team that upset No. 20 Temple 24 hours prior, were miserable offensively. Notre Dame wasn't much better, didn't score its 15th point until the 4:01 mark, and that bucket and ensuing foul shot by senior Tyrone Nash extended the Irish lead to 10…15-5.

With four minutes remaining, the Irish had hit just 6 of 26 shots from the field. Cal was – or at least seemed – much, much worse, hitting just two of its first 20 attempts then finishing the half without scoring over the final 9:16 and a 2-25 first half "shooting" performance.

Cal's five-point first half was one point off the NCAA shot-clock era record of four, set by Savannah State who trailed 48-4 at the break vs. Kansas State in January 2008.

Something in the water?

While Cal's five-point first half helped the Golden Bears escape infamy, the combined performance over the first 20 minutes did break an Old Spice Classic record for futility:

On November 25, 2010, Wisconsin and Manhattan combined for just 27 first half-points, the lowest total in the history of the shot clock era (1986). Just over 24 hours later, the Irish and Golden Bears topped (perhaps a better word choice?) that mark in last night's bricklayers' convention in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

Notre Dame led 21-5 at the break thanks to nine points and three assists over the first 20 minutes courtesy of steady center Tyrone Nash. Meanwhile, the Irish missed all 13 of their 3-point shots in the opening stanza.

The Golden Bears missed their first nine 3-point attempts as a team before Gary Franklin's triple graced the bottom of the net at the 18:15 mark of the second half, the first of a combined 23 shots from long range to twinkle the twine for either team.

The Irish placed three in double figures including game-high scorer Carleton Scott, whose 16-point, 10-rebound effort was not without its struggles. Scott missed each of his nine 3-point attempts but did knock down 5 of 8 inside the arc along with all six of his free throws. The game marked Scott's second double-double in as many days.

Cal trailed by as many as 17 in the second half but managed to chip away and draw to within 10 on several occasions late. A drive by Irish senior forward Scott Martin and his kick-out pass to Ben Hansbrough effectively ended any realistic comeback bid for the Golden Bears as Hansbrough drained a 20-footer from the wing for a 51-38 edge with just 2:15 remaining.

That connection made the Irish 1 for 20 from long range but extended the program's streak of at least one 3-point bucket in 380 consecutive contests.

Nash finished with 11 after his nine-point first half while Martin netted 11. Classmate Tim Abromaitis hit for just 7 points after scoring 25 the night prior but did bring down a game-high 11 boards. California's Allen Crabbe was the only Golden Bear in double digits, finishing with 10 points as well as 10 boards in 34 minutes.

The Irish held a significant advantage from the charity stripe, knocking through 26 of 37 offerings while Cal's jump-shooting offense managed to convert just six free throws in nine attempts.

Now 6-0, Notre Dame's win sets up a matchup with Wisconsin (4-1) Sunday night in the Classic's Championship game. Tip-off is set for 7:00 PM (EST). Wisconsin defeated both Manhattan and Boston College to advance while the Irish downed UGA in double overtime prior to Friday night's victory at the expense of Cal. Top Stories