NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Garrick Sherman led six Irish players in double-figures to lead the injury-riddled Notre Dame basketball team to a 95-69 exhibition win Monday night at Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center. Sherman, playing without the likes of injured forwards Tom Knight and Zach Auguste, scored a game-high 21 points while shooting 10-for-14 from the field in the lopsided victory.
"I knew I was going to play a lot coming into the game, so I needed to be effective and play hard," Sherman said after the win. "I think I was able to do that tonight and we're just waiting on everybody else to get healthy. Hopefully we get a better rotation when we get back."
"Sherm's gotta be like a really rock solid guy for us," Irish head coach Mike Brey said of the senior. 'I think he can do that. Why can't he have a great senior year like many of the guys in our program? Guys have great senior years here. Why can't he be one of them?"
The Greyhounds jumped out to a quick 5-0 lead, but the Irish came racing back to tie it at 9-9 by the first media timeout. Austin Burgett, who was in the starting lineup for the first time in any Irish game, scored five of the points thanks in part to a layup and a free throw after drawing a foul.
Hometown freshman Demetrius Jackson entered the game for the first time with 15:05 on the clock in the first half to a smattering of cheers. The Mishawaka-Marian product recorded his first foul just over a minute later when he hit Quinten Hunter on the wrist in the act of a three-point shot. Hunter hit 2-of-3 free throws to make it 13-12 Indy.
"It was definitely fun," said Jackson after finishing with 10 points and four assists. "It was weird, because it seems like I just had a Marian jersey on not too long ago. It was definitely fun and I feel like it can only get better from here. It was great to get the nerves and jitters out and get ready to go for the rest of the season."
Freshman, Steve Vasturia, made his first trip onto the Purcell Pavilion floor just a few minutes later. The Medford, NJ native made his presence known right away by hitting his first shot - a three-pointer - to put Notre Dame up 17-13 with just under 12 minutes to play in the half. He hit again a minute later to make it 20-17 Irish.
Another freshman, V.J. Beachem, saw action midway through the first half as well. The Ft. Wayne, IN native's layup with 5:13 left in the first extended an Irish run to 9-0 for a 31-23 advantage.
The Fighting Irish trailed 22-23 with 8:41 to play in the half, but they outscored Indianapolis 26-5 the rest of the way to take a 48-28 lead into the locker room. Jackson scored the last bucket of the half after an assist from yet another freshman, Austin Torres, who is from nearby Penn High School.
"It's weird going from one of the biggest players on your team to one of the smallest players at your position," said the 6-foot-7 Torres of the jump from high school to college. "One of the things I've been working on is getting stronger and getting in better shape."
The Greyhounds used an 11-4 run to cut their deficit to 52-39 early in the second half, but the Irish got rolling again to push the lead to 65-42 after a basket and a free throw by Pat Connaughton, who finished with 12 points. Eric Atkins scored 13, Jerian Grant had 14, and Burgett added 11 to round-out the Irish players in double figures.
Beachem had one possibly the biggest highlight of the game with a breakaway dunk to put the Irish up 84-60 with 5:32 to play. Eric Atkins followed that with a layup after a steal just seconds later to make it 86-60.
"I was nervous for our young guys," said Brey. "Because they were the only subs we were going to have. Were they going to be able to come in and kind of play how we play? The one thing about those young guys (is) they played a lot together against the older, veteran perimeter."
Notre Dame got to 90 points thanks to a pair of Jackson free throws with 3:40 remaining. Jackson reached double-digits with 35 seconds to play for the final Fighting Irish points of the night.
Indianapolis has made three consecutive trips to the Division II NCAA Tournament. The Greyhounds return four starters from last year's team.
Auguste will be out of game action until at least mid-November with a broken hand. Brey expects him to be able to practice on Saturday - the day after the team's next exhibition game against Tusculum Friday night. He says Knight will be back at practice on Wednesday.
Brey also announced after the game that Cam Biedscheid may redshirt this season. The sophomore forward averaged 6.2 points and 1.4 rebounds as a freshman last season.
"We're going to think about a five-year program for him," said Brey. "(We) haven't made a final decision yet. Obviously, you couldn't play him tonight if you're going to do that since he's a second-year (player). We may not have a decision this week, but I think it's something we want to talk about with him and his family and think about it."
Brey says he and his staff had private conversations about the possibility of sitting the 6-foot-7, 186-pound St. Louis native this season, but Biedscheid actually came to Brey with the idea after talking to his family.