By Julio Salazar | Staff Writer
November 13, 2015
NOTRE DAME, IN- Coach Mike Brey’s sixteenth season as the Irish Basketball Head Coach tipped off Friday in exciting fashion. Purcell Pavilion was loud and electric as the university unveiled the 2015 ACC Championship banner. Students of #19 Notre Dame displayed ACC Championship t-shirts as they reaped the benefits of a new ticket policy which allows students to enter home basketball games for free. The Irish team did not allow the moment to get too big for them, however. Captain Zach Auguste (senior) said on seeing the banner drop, “It was an honor. It was truly an honor. It was very cool to see that, but we have to put that behind us. It was cool to celebrate and remember, but now we have to go back out and get another one.” The leadership of this team showed throughout the game against the Fighting Saints of St. Francis (PA). Off to a shaky start, the Irish settled down into their game plan. Auguste got off to a great start rebounding the ball and finished with 10 rebounds to go along with his 14 points. He said he went into the game expecting a double-double.
“That’s an individual goal I have,” Auguste said. “My team believes in me just as much as I believe in them. It’s something I wanted to go out and do.”
One of the other captains, Demetrius Jackson (junior) also had a great night. He went 10 of 14 for a career-high 27 points. After a slow start in two exhibition games, Jackson felt ready in the season opener. This is the kind of dominating performance Notre Dame will need down the stretch from Demetrius.
Junior Forward V.J. Beachem said of Jackson’s success, “I guess he felt like he was in a low slump, but he told us he was back. He showed it tonight.”
In a dominating offensive performance, 12 different Irish players scored points Friday night.
An area of concern for the Irish, Free-Throw Shooting, also delivered some answers in the opener, as Notre Dame shot 19-35 for 76%. Auguste however continued to struggle from the line, going 6 for 12 and a disconcerting 50%. This team will need Auguste to improve if they want to defend the championship.
Defensively, the Irish were in control for most of the game. St. Francis Head Coach Rob Krimmell acknowledged the trouble.
“Their length, their size [bothered us]. Some of the shots we did get were challenged. I can’t remember too many uncontested shots. A team like that, we were trying to spread the floor a little bit and I thought they did a good job of closing the floor down and not allowing our guards to get in and create some open looks out of penetrate and pitch. Their length and size corralling the ball really challenged us.”
The Fighting Saints started the game with a 36.4 field goal percentage in the first half. Defensive adjustments at halftime by the Irish saw that number dip to 30% in the second half. St. Francis was limited to 56 points all game.
Coach Brey was excited to see the kind of defensive performance, “We had them pushed out, but I think we really value guarding. We kept coming back and defending, and I’m happy to see that.”
St. Francis experienced a stretch of nearly 5 minutes without a point in the second half as Notre Dame extended its lead to 56-37 and never let the Red Flash get closer than 22 points the rest of the game. All of Auguste’s rebounds were defensive.
The Irish look to extend a November home streak of 58-1 against a hot UMass-Lowell team on Tuesday.