Irish pass first test, handle UMass

UNCASVILLE, Conn. -- Demetrius Jackson and Jerian Grant combined to make 15 of 19 field goal attempts and Notre Dame remained unbeaten with an 81-68 victory Saturday over Massachusetts in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Classic at Mohegan Sun Arena.

Grant, a senior guard from Bowie, Maryland, led the Irish (4-0) with 24 points on 10 of 13 shooting. Jackson was 5-for-6 from the field and finished with 16 points.

Jackson led Notre Dame's 13-steal effort on defense. The sophomore guard from Mishawaka, Indiana, had three of his five steals in the first half.

Guard Derrick Gordon led UMass (3-1) with 18 points. The Minutemen finished with 18 turnovers. Notre Dame converted those miscues into 23 points. UMass jumped out to a 19-9 lead with 10:33 remaining in the first half, but the Irish turned things around with their aggressive defense.

UMass pulled within seven points twice in the final four minutes, but a basket in the lane by Zach Auguste (11 points) increased Notre Dame's lead to 70-61 and a 3-pointer by Pat Connaughton (18 points) with 2:32 left made it 73-63.

After a slow start offensively, the Irish used their defense to take control of the game. Notre Dame converted 10 UMass turnovers into 10 points and grabbed a 31-28 lead at halftime. That trend continued early in the second half as the Minutemen committed three early turnovers and the Irish pulled ahead 40-30.

Steve Vasturia scored to stretch Notre Dame's lead to 48-33. UMass managed to trim the margin to nine points by applying some full court pressure. But the Minutemen, who missed nine of the first 11 shots in the second half, could never get over the hump. Notre Dame closed the first half on a 16-4 run to take a 31-28 lead into the locker room. Jackson and Grant had 3-pointers but consecutive baskets by Connaughton keyed an 8-0 run that got the Irish going.

The Minutemen hit 8 of their first 14 field goal attempts on the way to leads of 19-9 and 24-15. But UMass made only two shots in the final eight minutes.

TIP-INS

Notre Dame: Three members of the Irish celebrated a New England homecoming playing at Mohegan Sun Arena. Pat Connaughton (Arlington), Zach Auguste (Marlborough) and Bonzie Colson (New Bedford) are all from Massachusetts. Ironically, UMass has just two players on its roster from Massachusetts (reserves Mike Wojewodzic and Zach Turcotte).

UMass: With the Minutemen playing again Sunday in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off and Wednesday against Northeastern, UMass will complete a stretch of six games in 13 days to start the season.

UP NEXT
-- Notre Dame vs. Providence in Uncasville, Connecticut, on Sunday
-- UMass vs. Florida State in Uncasville, Connecticut, on Sunday


IrishIllustrated.com Top Stories