A combination of Notre Dame’s “Twin Tower” lineup with solid effort from three-point range enabled the Irish (5-1) to record a methodical 69-52 victory over St. Francis (Pa), which dropped to 0-5, Saturday afternoon in Purcell Pavilion.
Freshman Cameron Biedscheid made four of his six three-point attempts to tie for team high scoring honors with 13 in the 69-52 win over St.. Francis.
Sixth-year senior wing Scott Martin was sidelined because of tendinitis in his knee. In Martin’s absence, Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey teamed 6-10, 248-pound senior center Garrick Sherman with 6-9, 246-pound senior Jack Cooley along the front line to complement the perimeter trio of juniors Eric Atkins and Jerian Grant plus sophomore Pat Connaughton.
Cooley recorded 13 points and 13 rebounds for his fourth double-double of the season and 17th of his career. Early in the first half, Sherman was poked in the eye and temporarily sidelined, but he still finished with 11 points and seven rebounds in 25 minutes.
“Those two guys banging away, Jack and Sherm, are tough to deal with,” Brey told Jack Nolan of the Notre Dame Basketball Network. “I thought our perimeter did a great job of continually feeding the post.”
Replacing Sherman in the first half was 6-7 freshman swingman Cameron Biedscheid, who entered the contest having converted only two of his 17 three-point attempts. Against the Red Flash, he found his stroke by drilling his first three attempts beyond the arc to build a 20-12 cushion. The 2012 Parade All-American nailed his fourth three midway through the second half to provide a 51-35 lead. He finished 4-of-6 from three-point range and scored a career high 13 points.
“The one thing that guy does is he makes shots and scores the ball for us,” said Brey of Biedscheid. “He gives us a lift off the bench offensively. We’ve got to have him in there and keep working on him to be stronger and be better defensively, but we need his punch off the bench offensively.”
Five Notre Dame players finished with double-figure scoring in the balanced attack, with Cooley, Biedscheid and Atkins tallying 13 apiece, while Sherman and Grant each had 11. Especially notable was that Atkins had six assists and no turnovers, while Grant tied his career high in assists with nine and turned it over only twice in 37 minutes.
Notre Dame extended its lead to as much as 68-43 before the Red Flash finished the contest with a 9-1 run to make the score look more respectable. A continued problem so far this year has been free-throw shooting, where the Irish finished 5-of-13 (39 percent).
“We certainly made free throws down the stretch of the BYU game,” Brey said. “Sometimes you can overanalyze that and do too much at the line and guys are thinking too much … we’ll stay with our regular routine and hopefully the law of averages swing back here real soon.”
The Irish host Chicago State this Monday (Nov. 26) and then superpower Kentucky on Thursday (Nov. 29), where 32 NBA scouts are scheduled to be in attendance.
Notre Dame improved to 104-7 in its last 111 games at Purcell Pavilion.