Hillesland's Near Triple-Double Leads Irish

SOUTH BEND - Zach Hillesland joked that Luke Harangody owes him one. Harangody and another teammate. Two missed buckets on Hillesland passes cost the Irish sophomore his first-career triple-double. Hillesland finished with 12 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists, helping No. 22 Notre Dame to a 88-76 victory over Seton Hall, at the Joyce Center, Sunday.

Russell Carter netted a game high 24 points and pulled down 10 rebounds, leading four Irish players in double figures. Rob Kurz went for 15 points and nine rebounds, and in his first-career start, Harangody scored 12 points.

It could've been 14, and Hillesland let Harangody know almost immediately in the locker room.

"He always gives me stuff about things like that," Harangody said.

"He wants that triple-double he said. I'm just not thinking, it's all mental. I just have to go up there and finish it. It happens."

Hillesland happened in the second half. Notre Dame (15-2 overall, 3-1 in the Big East) led 44-38 at intermission, but pushed the advantage out to 21 points with 10:53 to go. Hillesland had four points, two rebounds and four assists to spark the run. He even sprinkled in a block.

Hillesland broke the press and found Rob Kurz for a three and Jonathan Peoples, who was seeing more minutes because Colin Falls was struggling with the flu, for another trey during the run. He also dished the ball to Harangody for a dunk, that got most of the 10,137 fans on their feet.

"It's hard to do in a college game," Hillesland said of a triple-double. Chris Thomas still has the only one in Irish history. "It was the type of game where all those opportunities were available because they're pressing, and I get a lot of number situations, four-on-three, three-on-two, situations like that, so I just played what the defense gave me, and the other guys did a nice job of knocking down shots."

Seton Hall (10-6 overall, 2-2 in the Big East), had been pressing all season, so Irish coach Mike Brey had the team watch tapes of the victories over Maryland and Louisville to get reacquainted with what they would be facing. The 6-foot-9 Hillesland's versatility as a point forward makes him very valuable in games like this.

"It's a game for him," Brey stated. "The press games have been games for him, Louisville, Maryland and this one, because it puts him in a situation where he can handle the ball and make decisions.

"What I love about him is he keeps us attacking, even if it's a semi-good decision it's forceful," Brey continued. "We turned a couple over but we never get apprehensive or safe. I think we've got to keep doing that and he really helps us."

The Irish shot 53.4 percent (31-of-58) for the contest including 10-of-20 (50 percent) from the arc. After shooting 51.7 percent (15-of-29) in the first half, the Pirates finished shooting just 35.7 percent (25-of-70) from the floor.

Seton Hall couldn't by a bucket from the perimeter in the second half, shooting just 2-of-11 (18.2 percent) en route to 5-of-18 (35.7 percent) on the afternoon. They could've used a few of those treys, as the Pirates hung tough and cut Notre Dame's lead to 79-70 with 4:28 remaining. Brain Laing led them with 20 points, Eugene Harvey had 17 points, and Jamar Nutter chipped in 16 points.

"I'm proud of our kids for battling and trying to make it a game," first-year Seton Hall coach Bobby Gonzalez said. "The game really could have gotten away from us and turned into a 20 or 30-point blowout, two or three different times. We pretty much did the best we could.

"They're a heck of a team even without Kyle McAlarney. They are one of the best shooting teams in the country that I've seen."

While the Irish got hot early in the second half, Seton Hall couldn't find its previous rhythm.

"I got on us about our energy defensively," Brey said. "I thought we were in and out of it in the first half. We did a better job of keeping Harvey out of the lane, and that was Tory (Jackson). Tory was running our team, handling pressure and then guarding a guy who was really getting into the lane. We had him face guarding Harvey, and that caused some problems.

"He really hurt us early," Brey later said.

It was Carter early, scoring 14 points in the first half. Most of his baskets kept the Irish comfortably ahead.

In a career-high 36 minutes, Jackson gave Notre Dame four points, five assists and four rebounds, with just two turnovers. Peoples posted a career high in minutes (19) and points (nine), and matched a career high with three assists.


At the Joyce Center in South Bend.

SETON HALL (76): Grant Billmeier 0 0-0 0, Jamar Nutter 6 1-2 16, Brian Laing 6 7-8 20, Eugene Harvey 6 5-5 17, Larry Davis 4 4-4 13, Kashif Pratt 0 0-0 0, Carl Marshall 0 0-0 0, Mani Messy 0 0-0 0, Paul Gause 0 2-2 2, Stan Gaines 3 2-2 8. TOTALS: 25 21-23 76.

NOTRE DAME (88): Rob Kurz 4 6-9 15, Luke Harangody 5 2-4 12, Tory Jackson 2 0-0 4, Colin Falls 1 1-1 4, Russell Carter 8 4-4 24, Jonathan Peoples 2 3-4 9, Zach Hillesland 6 0-1 12, Luke Zeller 1 0-0 2, Ryan Ayers 2 0-0 6. TOTALS: 31 16-23 88.

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