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November 10, 2013

ND depth too much for Hatters

NOTRE DAME, Ind. -- His starters built a big lead, but it was the maintaining of the lead by the Irish reserves which most pleased Mike Brey in Notre Dame’s 80-49 victory over Stetson.

In a 7:52 first-half span, Brey’s starting lineup used a 21-5 run to break open a six-point game, punctuating the stretch with a Jerian Grant fast-break dunk. Grant had tried to set up classmate and position-mate Eric Atkins for an uncontested lay-up, but instead Atkins -- who finished the night five points shy of 1,000 on his career -- shoveled the ball back to Grant to make the score 38-16. Stetson never came within 20 points of the Irish again.

“What I was really happy about this afternoon was that our older guys got off to such a good start, it allowed me to play our younger guys long minutes and together in a game situation which is just a great experience for them,” the Irish head coach said. “The young guys played the way we play. I loved the way they played together.

“That was a good day for us early in the season, trying to figure out our young guys.”

The second unit, led by freshman guard and Mishawaka-native Demetrius Jackson and sophomore forward Zach Auguste, subbed in for the starters with 3:26 remaining in the first half, and actually grew the lead from a 23-point margin to a 30-point gap at halftime.

While the Irish -- subs and starters alike -- shot an impressive 61.3 percent from the field and 9-of-14 from three in the first half, the Hatters struggled to 26.7 percent shooting in the first half and 2-of-11 from deep. Add in Notre Dame’s 19 points off turnovers and 20-10 points in the paint advantage, and the 51-21 halftime lead may even seem slight.

“With our offense, our team is so consistent with everything we do,” Jackson said. “Everything was the same when we came out to play.”

In only his second college game, Jackson led the reserves with nine points, three assists and three rebounds in 18 minutes. Auguste’s nine points and five rebounds were a marked improvement over his two points and no rebounds in Friday night’s victory, his debut after sitting out the exhibition season due to a broken left hand.

“I definitely was more (easy-going) tonight,” Auguste said, agreeing with Brey’s Friday assertion he had been too wound-up. “I went out there with a cool, calm, collected attitude and it went well for me.”

It also went well for Grant, again. Grant followed-up on Friday’s career-high 26 points with 15 quick points against the Hatters, netting 13 in the first half alone. Grant finished the afternoon an efficient 4-of-6 from the field, including 2-of-3 from beyond the arc, while also handing out six assists.

Senior forward Garrick Sherman matched Grant for the game-high 15 points, while also grabbing nine rebounds. Those totals improved on Friday’s by 12 and five, respectively.

“I didn’t think I played too badly on Friday, just some of the shots I usually make just didn’t go in,” said Sherman, who made his first two buckets Sunday, compared to missing his first six in the opener. “As soon as you see that first one go in, it’s always good for your confidence. I was able to carry off that first few buckets and had a good night tonight.”

Junior guard Pat Connaughton added 10 points and six rebounds, and 10 Notre Dame players played double-digit minutes, including freshmen Steve Vasturia and V.J. Beachem logging 15 and 12, respectively.

“I was sweating profusely because they take one good scorer out, and they put another good scorer in,” Stetson head coach Corey Williams said. “It just makes it difficult, because they hit you from different angles.”

Notre Dame is off this week before hosting Indiana State on Sunday at noon.

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