Notre Dame got it done on both ends Saturday afternoon, defeating Syracuse 84-66 in front of a sold-out crowd behind a career-high 30-point performance by V.J. Beachem. Take a look at the highs and low from the Irish victory.
V.J. Beachem — The senior forward exploded against Syracuse and carried the Irish offense in the first half with 17 points. Beachem finished the game with a career-high 30 points — on 12-of-22 shooting, including a 6-of-10 effort from deep — and grabbed seven rebounds. His game included two monster dunks on the baseline. A confident Beachem is what Notre Dame needs moving forward.
Defense — Notre Dame played well on offense and complemented it with a good defensive performance. Syracuse shot 46.4 percent in the second half (13 of 28), but the Orange finished at 41.8 percent for the game. The Irish forced tough shots throughout the contest and Syracuse shot 31.6 percent (6 of 19) from behind the arc. Notre Dame continues to play well on defense, and when the offense is itself the Irish are awfully hard to beat.
Martinas Geben/Austin Torres — Torres continues to bring one thing to every game — energy. The guy plays hard and goes all-out every second he is on the floor. And it shows. He may not fill up the stat sheet, but his presence is undeniable. He finished the game this afternoon with two points and five rebounds and a big block when Syracuse was going for an alley-oop. He doesn’t have the size of other big men, but there is no questioning is heart and effort. This may have been one of the better games for Geben. In some games he is non-existent and invisible. But this afternoon he was getting rebounds and to the free throw line. The junior scored seven points and grabbed four boards in 17 minutes of action.
Three (One) Down
Bench Scoring — Let’s be clear, this may have been the most complete game Notre Dame has played this season (against a Power Five opponent) on both ends of the court. The Irish rebounded well and outscored Syracuse in the paint, which are battles Notre Dame typically loses. Not today. While watching the game and looking at the stat sheet, there may only be one thing one can complain about — bench scoring. Rex Pflueger scored five points to go along with the two provided by Torres and that was the extent of the bench scoring. T.J. Gibbs, who tallied in double digits the previous two contests, didn’t score and neither did Matt Ryan. It’s not like the Irish need a ton of scoring from the bench, but it is necessary at times. But, again, this is pretty nit-picky in a game the Irish played very well on both ends.
So, this is going to be “One Down” for this game instead of three.
Another good win for the Irish in ACC play. This isn’t the typical Syracuse team many are accustomed to seeing, but Notre Dame controlled the game from the beginning and never let up. The Irish got it done on both ends of the court and turned weaknesses into strengths against the Orange. Notre Dame got one monkey off their back. Can they get another in Virginia on Tuesday?