St. Joseph’s finished regulation with an 8-0 run to push Friday night’s Coaches vs. Cancer Classic semifinal game against Notre Dame to overtime, and then went on a 7-0 spree to start the extra frame to eventually hand the 20th-ranked Irish a 79-70 loss in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Notre Dame, which had a 66-58 advantage with four minutes left in the second half, went nearly eight minutes between field goals during a stretch the Hawks caught their second wind. All five St. Joseph’s starters finished with double figures, led by junior forward Ronald Roberts, who scored a career-high 21 points and grabbed 14 rebounds.
Senior forward Jack Cooley paced the Irish with 14 points and 14 boards before fouling out with just under two minutes to play in overtime. Junior guards Eric Atkins and Jerian Grant finished with 12 and 10 points, respectively, sophomore guard Pat Connaughton added 11 points and sixth-year swingman Scott Martin scored 13.
The Irish shot just 38.6 percent from the field (27-for-70), 34.5 percent from behind the 3-point line (10-for-29) and were outscored 19-6 at the foul line. The Hawks, without senior guard Carl Jones, who led the team in scoring last year with 17 points per game but was suspended for Friday’s contest, shot 46.6 percent (27-for-58).
Both teams only played seven players each, and it was Notre Dame that appeared to have the strongest legs as the second half matured. St. Joseph’s, which led 37-36 at the intermission, relied on its size and leaping ability to keep pace before stalling 15 minutes into the second stanza.
Gutsy junior guard Langston Galloway, who had a tooth knocked out after a loose-ball collision with Grant with five minutes to play in regulation, returned to the court after a timeout. He scored four of the Hawks’ eight unanswered points to force overtime before Roberts took over the rest of the way.
“I thought they beat us up on the backboard at key times,” Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey told UND.com after the loss. “They had 16 offensive rebounds and a couple big offensive rebounds when we were up a couple possession. You’re up eight and you just hope to get out of there. But their front line really hurt us.”
Though the Irish slip to 2-1 this season, Atkins in particular returned to his 2011-12 form, dishing out nine assists Friday and finding his scoring groove. Grant also got back into the offensive mix after averaging eight points per game prior to arriving in Brooklyn.
“They got on a flurry scoring the ball on a couple dunks and all of the sudden we were frazzled … I thought we played frazzled for the middle part of the first half. We finished the half a little bit more like us to be in good position down one. In the second half we got control of the thing. … It’s just disappointing because you had control of the thing.
“I’m disappointed we weren’t mentally and physically tougher against that front line because we’re going to see some front lines very similar in the Big East.”
The Irish will play Brigham Young at 7 p.m. Saturday in the consolation game.
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