NOTRE DAME, Ind. – it did not start smoothly and it never had the look of a work of art, but Notre Dame found a way to fight its way to an 84-to-57 win over visiting Monmouth on Monday night at Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center. Garrick Sherman, a transfer from Michigan State playing just his second game for the Irish, led all scorers with 22 points off the bench in a game that saw two Monmouth players foul out.
“He needed this one,” Irish head coach Mike Brey said of Sherman after the win. “He’s got that ability and we’ve seen it in practice, but he really hadn’t done it with the uniform on. I think this is so important for him before we head to Brooklyn. That’s a game that kind of makes him believe he’s really part of it.”
Sherman was 8-of-10 from the floor and 6-of-7 from the free throw line in just his second game in an Irish uniform. His big night came after he scored just three points and was 0-for-1 from the field in his debut two days earlier against Evansville.
“It’s a process (and) it’ll probably get better throughout the season,” Sherman said of carving his niche on a team that includes all five returning starters from last year’s 22-win team. “I think I was a little bit too passive in the first game and hopefully this was a little bit better in the median. Maybe (being) more aggressive is my role. I felt like I did some good things, but there’s always room for improvement.”
To say the game got off to a sluggish start would be fair. To say it was sloppy might even be more accurate. The Fighting Irish (2-0) had three turnovers before they got their first points on a Scott Martin 3-pointer nearly three minutes into the game. That shot had ND on the short end of a 4-3 score. Monmouth (1-1) helped the Irish by committing six fouls before the first media timeout at the 15:46 mark. The two teams combined to shoot 3-for-11 from the floor at that point.
The Irish got on a bit of a role over the next four-plus minutes though, hitting three of their next four shots from the field. It started after freshman Cameron Biedscheid came off the bench to covert on an old fashioned three-point play on a layup and a free throw. Garrick Sherman dunked just seconds later after an assist by Biedscheid and then Sherman connected on a basket and a free throw to make it a 15-9 Notre Dame advantage.
The scoring picked-up, but the pace and play of the game remained choppy for the next several minutes. Sherman’s three-point play sparked a 7-0 Irish run, but the Irish still totaled six turnovers and the teams combined for 14 turnovers by the 7:28 mark. Notre Dame’s saving grace was the Hawks scoring just two points off turnovers.
Sherman started a 9-0 run that lasted until 4:30 left in the half when Monmouth’s Tyrone O’Gara hit a basket. Pat Connaughton had both a three-pointer and a drive from the wing in that stretch to help ND take a 16-point advantage.
Notre Dame pushed the lead to as high as 17 points on a Zach Auguste bucket with just under 1:30 to play. They settled for a 35-23 lead at the intermission after Andrew Nicholas nailed a trey from the left corner as the first half buzzer sounded.
The Irish shot 14-of-26 (53-percent) from the field in the half but just 3-of-11 from three-point range. Monmouth was 10-of-26 (38-percent) and 1-of-5, respectively. ND outrebounded the Hawks 19-10 to help secure a 20-10 scoring dominance in the paint. Notre Dame’s 10 first half turnovers led to just five Monmouth points off turnovers, while the Irish totaled 16 points off nine Hawks turnovers.
Connaughton led Notre Dame with 10 points, while Sherman was next with nine off the bench. Marcus Ware and Nicholas led Monmouth with five points each after the game’s first 20 minutes.
Monmouth was able to find its scoring legs over the first 4:31 of the second half, with the Irish outscoring the Hawks just 9-7 over that span. The lead jumped to 20 with 13:18 remaining, but it didn’t last long.
Biedscheid dunked after a feed from Connaughton on an Irish breakaway, but the freshman was whistled for a technical foul. Two free throws by Jesse Steele cut the lead to 18 and back-to-back baskets by Nicholas had it down to a 14-point game just a minute later.
Marcus Ware fouled out with 12:01 to play and Scott Martin hit 1-of-2 free throws afterward to put the Irish up 55-39. The lead jumped to 23 seemingly in the blink of an eye after Jerian Grant hit his first shot of the night with 8:32 remaining. Ware’s teammate Ed Waite joined him on the bench when he picked-up his fifth foul less than six minutes later.
Monmouth sliced the Irish lead down to 15 two different times in the last six minutes, but the Irish were too much down the stretch and pulled away for their second win in as many games this season.
Cooley finished his night with 16 points and nine rebounds. He was 8-for-12 at the free throw line. Connaughton added 13 points on 3-of-8 shooting from three-point range.
Dion Nesmith led the Hawks with 13 points.
Notre Dame shot 31-of-58 (53-percent) from the field. They hit 53.8 % in the first half and 53.1 % in the second half. They held Monmouth to 21-of-54 (38-percent) from the floor. The Hawks were just 2-for-11 (18-percent) on three-pointers, while ND shot at a cool 6-for-21 (28-percent) clip.
The Fighting Irish owned a 42-24 rebound advantage. They outscored the Hawks 40-20 in the paint. Sherman helped the Irish bench outscore Monmouth’s 37-19.
Notre Dame turned the ball over a total of 342 times all of last season for an average of 10.0 per game in 2011-2012. The Fighting Irish committed 13 turnovers though in Saturday’s victory over Evansville and ended Monday’s game with 16 turnovers on the stat sheet. Brey says he was not surprised at the high total considering the aggressive defense employed by the Hawks all night.
“I would have been really disappointed if we didn’t adjust in the second half and be better with the ball,” Brey said. “They really distort you. Last year we had that thing down at nine sometimes and 10. When you play more guys you tend to turn it over more. I can swallow that if we keep buying into what we’re doing on the defensive end.”
Seven Irish players saw the floor for at least 22 minutes in the game, while freshman Zach Auguste played for nine minutes. Despite their own high turnover total, the Irish were able to force 18 turnovers of their own and finished with 28 points off turnovers.
CVC Part 2
Monday’s game was the second of two preliminary-round games in the Coaches vs. Cancer (CVC) Classic. The Irish beat Evansville 58-49 on Saturday in what was both their season-opening and opening-round game of the event.
Notre Dame Plays St. Joseph’s this Friday at 9:30 pm ET in the CVC semifinals and will face either BYU or Florida State on Saturday. The semifinals and finals of the event will be held at the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY. Both ND games will be televised on TruTV.