Irish Coast on the Road

Notre Dame's game at Seton Hall on Wednesday promised to be a high scoring affair between the Big East's first and third best scoring teams, especially because the teams entered the game ranked at the bottom of the conference in scoring defense. The promise was half kept.

The Irish built a big lead early and coasted to a 95-69 victory. Luke Harangody led the way with 22 points and 13 rebounds. Kyle McAlarney added 19 points including 5 three point baskets. Rob Kurz had 9 rebounds to go with 17 points as ND dominated on the boards with a 49-31 rebounding advantage.

The high scoring teams were true to form in the early going. Jamar Nutter hit two long three point shots, and Luke Harangody showed the Pirates his mid-range jump shot as each team scored 8 quick points. Then the Irish began to dissect the Seton Hall zone, and an 8-0 run to the first media time-out resulted.

After Paul Gause's free throw interrupted ND's run, the ND bench got involved. Luke Zeller made two three point shots, Jonathan Peoples and Ryan Ayers added baskets, and the Irish built a 13-point lead at the 8 minute mark. At the same time, the Irish increased their defensive intensity, limited the Pirates' open looks, and contested every drive to the basket.

The run continued with a Zach Hillesland free throw and two Harangody steals that led to a lay-up by Jackson and a three point basket by McAlarney. Jeremy Hazell finally stopped the run with a pair of long three point shots to cut the lead back to 13 at 34-21. ND responded with lay-ups from half court offense by Harangody and Kurz and a three point basket by McAlarney to take a 20 point lead at the half.

The Irish held SHU's leading scorer Brian Laing to 5 first half points as the Pirates shot just 31% from the field. They contested Seton Hall's inside shots, blocking three, as 18 of SHU's first 21 points came from beyond the arc. A late scoring flurry by Jeremy Hazell earned him 13 first half points, but the rest of the team only scored 8. Hazell finished with a game high 26 points.

The Irish made 51% of their first half shots as McAlarney led the way with 11 points. Harangody and Zeller added 8 apiece, and Rob Kurz led the defensive effort with 6 rebounds and 2 blocks while using his size advantage to limit Laing's scoring chances. The Irish dominated the boards with a 20-12 rebounding advantage at the half.

Harangody started the second half like a man intent on ending the game early. He had a three point play, an assist, a blocked shot, a driving lay-up, two rebounds, and another assist on an Ayers three point basket in just the first two and a half minutes. The game got ragged after the Irish surge as SHU desperately pressured the Irish in an attempt to get back into the game. The Pirates did cut the lead to 17 with 11:30 to play, but the Irish came out of a 30-second timeout with two baskets and three free throws to extend the lead back to 24. SHU didn't threaten to get back into the game again.

The Irish continued to run their offense efficiently with assists on 22 of 35 baskets. 54% shooting was the result. Tory Jackson's 10 assists led the Irish, with McAlarney adding 6 and Kurz adding 4. Ryan Ayers continued his fine play off the bench with 9 points and 4 rebounds. Luke Zeller added 8 points, and Zach Hillesland chipped in with 7.

The victory extended ND's winning streak to four, two wins at home and two on the road, as it returns home for Saturday's noon rematch with Marquette. The 33-game home court winning streak is on the line, but revenge for the 92-66 loss in Milwaukee three weeks ago is the greater motivation. A victory over Seton Hall, a team that plays a similar style of basketball, was the perfect preparation.


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