Two days after setting a career-high in points, McAlarney one-upped himself, totaling 25 points, including seven made three-pointers in Notre Dame's 94-63 victory over Colgate. In front of 8,977 fans at the Joyce Center, the junior guard spearheaded an offensive attack that saw the Irish hit 13-of-28 baskets from behind the arc, good for 46 percent, and score a season-high in points.
The victory was the 23rd straight for Notre Dame (4-2) at the Joyce Center, which is the now second longest streak in school history. The Irish, who have just one non-conference contest left away from South Bend against Kansas State at Madison Square Garden on December 4th, will have a shot to tie the record on Saturday night. Notre Dame will host Eastern Michigan and tip-off is scheduled for 7:00 PM. If these last two performances were any indication, returning home was just the right medicine McAlarney needed to kick some early year shooting woes.
"Certainly, you feel good about Kyle," head coach Mike Brey said. "He's hunting his stuff. He's been more aggressive hunting for shots these last two games. We've been better finding him because he's been aggressive. We're looking for him and screening for him in transition."
Brey said after Saturday's win that he believed in the law of averages and McAlarney would start hitting the jump shots the junior was missing in the first four games. In the three previous contests before Youngstown State, McAlarney was 9-of-31 from the field and 5-of-17 from three-point range. In the victory over the Penguins, the junior totaled 23 points, including five made three-pointers.
The hot play carried over to Monday. When Notre Dame needed a big shot in the first half with a pesky Colgate (4-3) team hanging around, McAlarney was not only the player to take it but make it as well. The junior scored 14 of the team's final 17 points in the first half to stake the Irish to a 46-33 lead. After a three-pointer from the Raiders' Willie Moore to cut the advantage to 40-33, McAlarney drained back-to-back bombs to give Notre Dame the 16-point intermission cushion.
After scoring 16 points in the first half, McAlarney didn't cool down early in the second half. Another three-pointer extended Notre Dame's lead to 49-35 and his sixth made basket from behind the arc made it 59-40 Irish. In the game, the junior guard ended up with a career-high 25 points and it‘s now 12 made three-pointers in the past two games. It's no coincidence that in McAlarney's two best games of the young season, Notre Dame has totaled its two highest scoring outputs.
"What we've done is find him early in transition before people can set up," Brey said. "That's helped us. Initially, that's been Tory coming down and finding him as he's running the floor. That's a great way to identify him and find him before they start to hug him."
There was also the two-headed monster down low that's been instrumental to the Irish's success this season. In the past three games, it was Luke Harangody leading the way. The sophomore forward had averaged 23 points and 10 rebounds in contests against Baylor, Georgia Tech and Youngstown State.
On Monday, it was the sophomore watching the senior captain do the work down low. Rob Kurz was the main force in the paint area, totaling a season-high 20 points and 10 rebounds against the Colgate defense. It was the senior's second double-double of the year, with the other coming in the season-opening victory over Long Island. Kurz has only failed to score in double figures once and that was on Saturday when the senior notched eight points and 11 rebounds versus Youngstown State. Kurz was complimented by Harangody's 11 but it was the veteran showing the way on Monday.
Point guard Tory Jackson, who turned the ball over six times on Saturday, was much better against Colgate. The sophomore shot only three times on the night, hitting two for four points. But Jackson dished out seven assists to just one turnover in 28 minutes of action. Another player who produced was Luke Zeller. The junior forward scored 14 points, including 4-of-5 from three-point range.
"He energizes the heck out of me when those shots go in," Brey said of Zeller. "He's better at defensive rebounding. He's better at post defense. He's not that freakish athlete in the post. But he can come in and big guys lose him when he gets out of the points. God, he helps us. He shot it great at practice yesterday and I told him if he had a good one, take it."
COLGATE 63: Kendall Chones 4-7, 0-0 8; Roemer 3-7, 4-6 13; Minchella 2-5, 2-2 6; Pounds 0-1, 1-2 1; Waddy 4-7, 1-1 10; Kyle Chones 3-4, 0-0 8; Woodhouse 0-5, 2-2 2; Hoban 0-0, 0-0 0; Vinson 0-2, 0-0 0; Morse 2-6, 0-0 6; Jonson 1-3, 2-2 4; English 2-4, 1-2 5; Totals: 21-51, 13-17 63.
NOTRE DAME 94: Kurz 7-10, 6-6 20; Harangody 5-11, 1-1 11; Jackson 2-3, 0-0 4; McAlarney 8-12, 2-2 25; Ayers 3-7, 2-2 9; Nash 0-2, 1-2 1; Kopko 0-0, 0-0 0; Proffitt 1-2, 0-0 2; Peoples 1-8, 1-2 4; Abromaitis 0-3, 0-0 3; Hillesland 0-3, 4-4 4; Zeller 5-8, 0-0 14; Andree 0-0, 0-0 0; Totals: 32-69, 17-19 94.