Irish End '08 On High Note

Notre Dame opened Big East play and closed out 2008 with a 92-82 victory over DePaul at Allstate Arena in Chicago. Notre Dame forward Luke Harangody had another double-double with 26 points and 16 rebounds to lead the Irish.

Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey has said that his team may have to outscore teams to be successful in Big East action and that was the case as the seventh-ranked Irish (10-2) opened up conference play with a 92-82 victory over DePaul at Allstate Arena on Wednesday night.

Don't look for Brey to change that strategy anytime soon.

"I don't know if there is a better offensive team than us in the country," Brey told Notre Dame Radio Network's Jack Nolan after the game. "We're really good offensively. I love to watch us play the game. We know how to play, we know who we are."

Luke Harangody led the Irish with 26 points and 16 rebounds while Zach Hillesland had a career-high 17 points.

"Him handling the ball and driving and scoring around the basket for us I think was a key," Brey said of Hillesland. "There's an X factor when you have a point forward like that who's in his groove."

Ryan Ayers added 14 points, Kyle McAlarney had 13 and Tory Jackson chipped in with 12 as all five Notre Dame starters reached double-figures.

Mac Koshwal led all scorers with 28 points to go with 11 rebounds for DePaul (8-6). DePaul's Dar Tucker had 25 points and Jabari Currie added 15.

"Those guys are really talented guys," said Brey. "Koshwal is such a force on the backboard, but we did just enough, we had good defensive possessions enough to just really stay in front of them and be smart.

"Again, when you're shooting the ball and passing it and cutting and finding the open man it's kind of going to be hard to score more than us on a night like tonight."

The game was not completely one-sided in the first half, but the pace was. Notre Dame started fast and while the Blue Demons were able to keep up early, by the end of the first 20 minutes the Irish had a 47-34 lead.

McAlarney started the game knocking down three of his four three-point attempts, including two from well behind the arc, to help stretch the Blue Demons' defense.

Harangody was a beast inside, scoring 12 first-half points along with five rebounds. While Harangody and McAlarney were doing their normal thing, it was Hillesland who doubled his season average in the first half by scoring 12 points to go with seven first-half rebounds.

Tucker kept DePaul close with 16 first-half points and was a perfect 4-for-4 from behind the arc while Koshwal added 10.

The score was 23-19 nine minutes in before the Irish went on a 7-0 run to grab a 30-19 advantage with 9:26 remaining in the half. Tucker helped DePaul hang in there and his three-pointer with four minutes left made the score 38-32, but an Ayers trifecta capped a 9-2 spurt as the Irish took a 13-point lead into intermission.

Koshwal played especially strong in the second half and DePaul came out quickly. The Blue Demons opened the frame with an 8-2 run to cut the score to 49-42, but Jonathan Peoples keyed a 7-2 Notre Dame spurt that gave the Irish their cushion back with a three-point play after a sweet reverse layup.

The Blue Demons did not allow the Irish to run away with the game as they responded to every Notre Dame run with a burst of their own, but DePaul was never able to get within eight after Peoples' layup.

"I thought anytime they made a run we were very smart offensively," Brey said. "We had a great offensive possession to kind of stop them from thinking that they could really make a run to tie us or take the lead."

Notre Dame hopes that the win will make an impression around the country.

"Everyone was watching to see, ‘Are they as good as people talk about?' We're pretty good," Brey said. "Everybody watching on national TV before they go out and ring in the New Year."

But with another conference road game coming at St. John's on Saturday, the Irish will not have long to savor this one.

"You've got to flush it fast because here comes St. John's quickly," said Brey. "For us to get another road win and get two in a row on the road before we come back home, that would be a great way to start." Top Stories