Irish Win Opener

Notre Dame began its 99th basketball season with a 74-65 win over the Huskies of Northern Illinois University on Monday night. The Irish made the typical first-game errors, but managed to hold off the charge of the Huskies in the second half to get their first win of the season.

The Irish got off to a quick start and led the Huskies 44-28 at halftime. Torin Francis and Chris Quinn led the first half charge with each scoring 13 points followed by Chris Thomas with 9 points. As a team, the Irish shot 48.6 percent from the floor, 17-35, and 38 percent from 3-point range.

Early in the second half, Notre Dame increased its lead by as many as 24 points, and with just over 10 minutes remaining, the spread was 21. That's when the Huskies went into high gear offensively and defensively and cut the lead to six, 66-60, with about 95 seconds to play.

Clutch foul shooting down the stretch by Francis, Jones and Thomas enabled the Irish to post their first win of the season by the final score of 74-65.

In the second half, Notre Dame's shooting fell off as they shot 6-28 for 21.4 percent and 2-10 on 3-point attempts or 20 percent. Overall, the Irish ended up shooting 36.5 percent from the floor.

The key to the win was the ability to make foul shots as the Irish hit on 16-22 for the game. Francis led all scorers with 24 points. He also pulled down 19 rebounds. Chris Quinn added 18 points and Chris Thomas followed with 17.

Irish Eyes talked with Coach Mike Brey and some of the key performers right after the game. Torin Francis said the close game was, "a learning experience. This is what the games are going to be like throughout the year. There is rarely a blowout in college basketball. If one team is up by a lot the other team puts up a fight. That's what happened tonight. We played hard on defense, and on the offense we rushed some shots. There are things we need to work on as the season goes on."

Torrian Jones added, "It was great to get out there and play against a tough opponent like them. That's not a normal first game type of team you play. You usually try to get an easy team to test yourself out on but they were a great team. They pushed us to the last seconds and it was a good test for us."

Jordan Cornette said he was happy to get a win. "I think it is always tough to get in a rhythm at first, but everybody played within themselves, and we played as a team," he said. "I'm very pleased to have this first victory under our belts, and I'm looking forward to many more."

Chris Thomas said this was the most difficult first-game of his career. "This is the hardest opening game I've played," said Thomas. "It was a great test for us. We watched a little tape of Northern Illinois but we didn't know that much about them. We did know they were going to be a good team--an NCAA tournament team--and we are just fortunate to come out on top. We showed glimpses of what our team is really going to be this year."

Coach Brey was happy to get this first win, and with the performance of his team, "I thought we defended really well for 40 minutes which helped us to win the game. We especially guarded the 3-point line which is such a weapon for them. It was a good win for us. There are some things we need to work on as we get into the next segment. I am pleased what we did overall defensively. Offensively we could have been a little more efficient in the second half and paid a little more attention to detail."

The Irish return to action at home Saturday, November 29 at 1:00 pm as they host Mount St. Mary's. Top Stories