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Irish Men Fend Off Hungry Wolves

Friday’s second and final exhibition game for the Notre Dame men’s basketball team was a double shot of espresso with a side of smelling salts. Against NAIA Division II squad Cardinal Stritch, the 22nd-ranked Fighting Irish got mixed up in a surprising slugfest before eventually wearing out the Wolves for a 70-56 victory.

Senior forward Jack Cooley registered a double-double Friday in an exhibition victory against Cardinal Stritch

One of the most impressive 3-point shooting performances ever inside the Joyce Center, Stritch junior guard Jeremy D’Amico drained all eight of his attempts from behind the arc and finished 9-for-9 shooting for a game-high 26 points.

“I’d say the last time I saw a performance like that was [Kyle] McAlarney against Syracuse (school-record nine triples on Feb. 25, 2008),” Irish head coach Mike Brey told “The kid just shot the heck out of it. I believe he made two 3s all of last season. … He’s got the green light from now on.”

The teams went into intermission tied at 34 points apiece, but Notre Dame came out with an 8-0 run to start the second half and set the tone for the rest of the game. Senior forward Jack Cooley and junior point guard Eric Atkins each had 15 points, with Cooley adding 10 rebounds for a double-double. Freshman forward Cameron Biedscheid came off the bench and chipped in 11 points, mostly in the final 20 minutes, to help put some distance between the Irish and the Wolves.

“I’m very impressed with Cameron Biedscheid being part of that run with the veterans,” Brey said. “That was a big night for him. We are quick on the perimeter, especially with Jerian [Grant], Eric and Cameron out there — I don’t know if any of my teams have had that kind of look. We got some stuff in transition with that group to kind of give us some breathing room, and Cameron was a big, big part of it.

“I think they can get going at any time. I like [that] we were in a game like that, because we’re going to be in a lot of Big East games … Evansville plays like that. They grind you up and screen the heck out of you. The veterans did a great job and Cam really helped us.”

Biedscheid was 4-for-7 from the field, including a 3-pointer and a high-flying dunk off a lob pass from Atkins. Grant contributed nine points and senior center Garrick Sherman, who missed a couple easy buckets early, settled in for eight points in 13 minutes.

Stritch, from Milwaukee, won 30 games last season en route to the NAIA Division II Elite Eight. The small lineup hassled Notre Dame all night, matched the Irish’s 26 rebounds, shot nearly 46 percent from the floor and 50 percent from 3-point range. But no other player scored more than six points to go with D’Amico’s deep-ball outburst.

The Irish, which kick off the regular season against Evansville on Nov. 10 in a Coaches Vs. Cancer opening round game in South Bend, shot 52.4 percent for the game and 53.3 percent from deep. Atkins knocked down three of his four attempts from behind the arc and sixth-year senior Scott Martin sank a pair of triples en route to six points and a team-best six assists.

“That was a good challenge for us because we had some game pressure on us,” Brey said. “I love how we defended in the second half to hold them to 22 points. It was one of those grinding games. [In the exhibition opener against Quincy] we were able to run and dunk and pass and we had 30 assists. [This game] was a little bit like a lot of games we won in the Big East last year, where we had to grind and grind, and kind of build a little bit to get out of there.”

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