ND Offense Clinical in Rout of Coppin State

Notre Dame hammers visiting Coppin State from the outset, wins 104-67.

SOUTH BEND -- Notre Dame's trio opponents during the team's 3-0 start to the 2014-15 season didn't offer much in the way of resistance. That hasn't stopped Mike Brey's Irish from playing 120 minutes of determined, crisp, aggressive basketball, a noticeable improvement over last season irrespective of foes faced.

"It afforded us to play some guys off the bench longer minutes, hopefully to get them even more confident," said Brey "We talked about three games here to get them ready to head to Connecticut for a big challenge (this weekend)."

The Irish jumped on the Eagles early, assisting on 11 of their first 15 baskets with four layups making up the difference in a nearly perfect first 10 minutes en route to a 33-14 lead. The hosts extended to 49-16 on a Demetrius Jackson jumper at the 4:13 mark and held a 53-23 lead going into the break.

Notre Dame maintained a healthy 30-point edge throughout the first 11 minutes of the second half before embarking on a 16-0 run, extending their lead to 95-51 on a three-point shot by V.J. Beachem.

It was the fifth three-point bucket of the evening from Beachem who scored 19 off the bench on 7 of 9 shooting including 5-6 from long range in 18 minutes of action.

"I just tried to shoot it whenever I'm open," said Beachem. "Coach told me to stay hot so that's what I tried to do. We have to be ready to go off the bench. The starters get us going and then we don't want a drop off after that."

Said Brey of Beachem, "We want him shooting the ball with confidence. It's nice when you play with a bunch of guys that can find you. We have some drive and dish guys. But I like that he's taking shots, and he's even taking some semi-bad shots. He can shoot up over the top of you with his length."

Irish junior center Zach Auguste led all scorers for the third straight contest, chipping in 21 points and hitting each of his nine shot attempts -- eight of them layups or dunks. Auguste added seven rebounds in support of Pat Connaughton's game-high 12 caroms. Wednesday was the third time in as many games the six-foot five-inch captain led Brey's bunch on the boards.

"I still think we have to come back to rebounding the basketball and being able to defensive rebound the basketball as a unit," said Brey. "We can't just rely on Pat. We're going to need some help."

Asked about his center Auguste's efforts, Brey offered, "I like where he's rebounding. I still think he has to be more focused on his defensive position, in post defense and being longer. But you know what, he's scoring for us right now. He's a perfect big to play off of a perimeter that can really find you. He's presenting himself well with being active."

Notre Dame knocked down 40 of 61 shots -- a ridiculous 65.6 percent clip -- and finished with assists of 24 of their 40 buckets. The Irish started 20 for 28 from the field, then opened the first half scoring their first seven buckets on layups or dunks before a Beachem three interrupted the parade.

Paced by Beachem, Brey received heavy contributions for the third straight outing from his bench. The backup brigade accounted for 41 points and 15 boards on a 13 of 22 shooting effort. Freshman Martinas Geben scored 12 points with six boards and a pair of assists on three-point baskets over 20 minutes of action. Geben was one of eight Irish to play at least 18 minutes with no one logging as many as 30.

"What has been nice is you bring guys off the bench and they're able to stay moving and engaged. And there's not a drop-off," Brey said. "Now we have to do it away from our building. Now I'm interested to see guys coming off the bench on the road. Who are you gong to be on the road?

"It was a big night for V.J. Beachem and he's been practicing that way. For him to get confident, he's such a key guy for us," Brey continued. "He goes up there in a really good frame of mind. I feel really good about Martin Geben. He knows his role, he plays it every game. Doesn't try to do anything he can't do."

Senior Jerian Grant scored 15 points with 8 assists, hitting 7 of 11 from the field while sophomore Demetrius Jackson scored 10 with four assists. Grant and Connughton clearly worked to involve others in each of their team's first three outings.

Coppin State shot 1 for 18 from beyond the arc in the first half, finishing 9 for 35 from long range for the contest and just 27 of 72 from the floor overall. Arnold Fripp led the visitors with 14 points on 6 of 13 from the field.

Notre Dame forward Austin Burgett did not dress as a precautionary measure Wednesday night. The junior was nursing a sore ankle from Sunday's win over Navy.

On the Docket

It's about to get harder.

2014 NCAA Tournament teams Massachusetts and Providence await this weekend with the Irish and Minutemen tipping off at noon Saturday at the Mohegan Sun Arena (Uncasville, CT). Like Notre Dame, both are undefeated with Massachusetts the only squad among the trio to receive tests to date, beating ACC cellar-dweller Boston College 71-62, then winning in overtime over Manhattan, 77-68.

"We need something really hard and this is going to be really hard this weekend. Can we guard, can we rebound, can we be efficient offensively and score that thing away from our building. All of those are factors for us to be successful this weekend.

Notre Dame and Providence will renew their Big East rivalry Sunday at 2:30.

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