Irish Earn Tough Win

SOUTH BEND, IN- It didn't take long to figure out that St. Edward's (TX) was not going to be the exhibition pushover that St. Ambrose was last week. In that contest, Notre Dame did whatever they wanted en route to an impressive 109-53 victory. On Wednesday night at the Joyce Center, St. Edward's showed a lot of fight but couldn't overcome Luke Harangody's big second-half performance.

Back from a thumb injury, the physical sophomore poured in 14 of his 15 points after halftime and pulled down eight rebounds to help Notre Dame pull away for a 71-56 exhibition victory. It gave the Irish a perfect 2-0 exhibition record as the team heads into next week's opening contest against Long Island on Monday. The game is at the Joyce Center and tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 PM.

This contest was far from the snoozer that St. Ambrose turned out to be. St. Edward's went 24-6 last season, including capturing their second straight conference title. Notre Dame helped the Hilltoppers stay in the game by committing 19 turnovers. But in the second half and with the contest still in doubt, when the Irish needed a basket, it was Harangody who delivered. It was a stern test but Notre Dame didn't end up like Michigan State did against Grand Valley State or Ohio State did against Findlay (OH).

"I'm really impressed with St. Edward's and I'm glad we scheduled them," head coach Mike Brey said. "They have some Division I bodies and they've won together. They kept game pressure on us and I thought it was a good thing for us to be in something like that. There were things you would like to do better, like take care of the basketball.

"But in the second half especially, it was a Big East game. It was physical, you had to grind it out, play half court defense, rebound and get your center a low-post touch. It wasn't pretty like the other night but our veterans had to be reminded that's how we won a lot of league games last year."

Harangody wasn't much of a factor in the first half as Notre Dame took a 38-28 lead. The sophomore, who missed the St. Ambrose contest because of a torn tendon in his thumb, missed the only shot he attempted. In the second half, with St. Edward's closing the gap, the big man down low took over.

Harangody, who is trimmer than his freshman season physique, scored five of the nine points in a decisive run that saw a 43-39 lead increase to 52-39. St. Edward's did not get closer than eight points for the rest of the game. Notre Dame went to the sophomore time and time again in the second half and Harangody kept putting the ball in the basket. After halftime, the sophomore was 6-of-9 for 14 points and grabbed six rebounds.

"You're trying to win but I'm also thinking, ‘In the heat of battle, let's get him ready for next week,'" Brey said of Harangody, who played 25 minutes on Wednesday. "There's always a risk of (his injury) getting tweaked again. We knew that. But we protected him, more so in practice than in games."

Harangody and senior Rob Kurz combined for 30 points and 17 rebounds, not a bad outing for the two low post Notre Dame players. It was the guards' play at times that was inconsistent. Tory Jackson and Kyle McAlarney combined for 10 turnovers, seven of them in the first half. Brey said after the game that Jackson was suffering from a bad case of the flu and wasn't 100 percent but gutted it out in the second half. McAlarney ended the night with 12 points, including two of the team's six made three-pointers Assist-wise, Jackson led the team with four as Notre Dame assisted on 18 of the 23 made field goals.

A big difference in the contest was free throw shooting. The Irish got to the line 25 times and converted 19 times while St. Edward's hit just 9-of-16 from the charity stripe. Also, in two exhibition contests, Notre Dame has hit nine shots from behind the arc. Last season, the Irish averaged almost nine made three-pointers a game. It's all the more reason to pound the ball down into Harangody and Kurz early and often for the 2007-08 Notre Dame squad.

ST EDWARD'S 56: Pierre 1-3, 4-6 6; Mullenax 3-4, 2-3 8; Zimmer 4-9, 2-3 12; Weinstein 4-10, 1-2 10; Land 0-2, 0-0 0; Masso 0-0, 0-0 0; Wakefield 1-4, 0-0 2; Watson 1-1, 0-0 2; Moss 1-4, 0-0 3; Ivanov 1-5, 0-0 3; Griffin 5-8, 0-0 10; Reinking 0-0, 0-0 0; Nagel 0-0, 0-0 0; Barsted 0-0, 0-2 0; Samuels 0-1, 0-0 0; Totals: 21-51, 9-16 56.

NOTRE DAME 71: Kurz 5-9, 4-5 15; Hillesland 0-0, 2-3 2; Jackson 2-7, 6-6 11; McAlarney 4-10, 2-2 12; Ayers 2-5, 2-2 7; Nash 0-0, 0-0 0; Peoples 2-4, 0-0 5; Abromaitis 0-0, 0-0 0; Scott 1-1, 0-0 2; Zeller 1-2, 0-0 2; Harangody 6-10, 3-7 15; Totals: 23-48, 19-25 71. Top Stories