Notre Dame blows past Navy 92-53
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) Zach Auguste no longer has to look over his shoulder, and that's making a big difference so far for the Notre Dame junior center.
After the graduation of big men Garrick Sherman and Tom Knight, the main bulk of work in the Irish post this season belongs to Auguste, and he's taking advantage. Less than 48 hours after scoring a career-high 19 points against Binghamton, Auguste bested that mark by scoring 20 on Sunday to help Notre Dame blow past Navy, 92-53 at Purcell Pavilion.
With Notre Dame's regular lineup of four perimeter players around Auguste in the paint, he's finding room to move, and blossom, inside for the Irish.
''In the four-out and one-in, if I just hang around the hoop, I'll get easy buckets,'' Auguste said. ''My teammates are great distributors and they find ways to get me the ball.''
The Irish (2-0) used a 10-3 run 9 minutes into the second half to open up a comfortable 19-point lead after an Auguste dunk, and a 19-2 burst late in the game to turn it into a rout.
Jerian Grant added 17 points and 10 assists, and Pat Connaughton had 13 points and eight rebounds for Notre Dame.
Brandon Venturini scored 11 points for Navy, which threw a scare into No. 18 Michigan State at home Friday night in a tight 64-59 loss. The Midshipmen (0-2) couldn't muster the same magic against the Irish, committing 20 turnovers and shooting just 23 percent in the second half.
That quick turnaround for Navy from Friday night, coupled with the loss of a key player, was too much to overcome for the Mids.
''That's a hard turnaround and we're a young team,'' said Navy coach Ed DeChellis, who was without forward Worth Smith after the senior suffered a dislocated knee against Michigan State.
Consecutive 3-pointers by Navy's Brandon Venturini gave the Mids a 10-6 lead early, but Notre Dame used runs of 11-0 and 7-0 to get ahead and take a 36-28 lead into halftime. The advantage could have been bigger, but the Irish shot just 3 of 10 from the 3-point arc in the first 20 minutes.
''We weren't in much of an offensive rhythm in the first half, and this is where I hope we've grown and matured - it didn't carry over to us being distracted defensively,'' said Notre Dame coach Mike Brey.
After committing just 10 turnovers in Friday's narrow 64-59 home loss to No. 18 Michigan State, Navy had matched that number just over 15 minutes in against the Irish, who scored 25 points off Navy turnovers.
Notre Dame improved to 52-1 in November under Mike Brey. The only loss came one day away from exactly one year ago, 83-70 to Indiana State on Nov. 17, 2013.
Navy has lost seven straight, dating back to last season. DeChellis fell to 1-1 against the Irish, with the win coming back in 2009 when he coached Penn State to a 67-59 victory in the National Invitation Tournament semifinals.
In addition to his double-double of 17 points and 10 assists, Grant added five rebounds and just two turnovers in 31 minutes. Auguste scored 13 of his 20 points in the second half.
Notre Dame: The Irish are halfway through a stretch of four games in eight days. Throw in a foreign tour of Italy over the summer, and this group already has a good deal of experience.
''You can tell we've played together a lot,'' Brey said after Friday's win over Binghamton. ''This team's done a lot together since June 15th.''
Navy: The quick turnaround from that Friday home game against Michigan State included a late flight and a bus breakdown on the highway between Chicago and South Bend that caused a 90-minute delay and late arrival Saturday night to Notre Dame.
Notre Dame hosts Coppin State at 7 p.m. on Wednesday.
Navy visits Providence on Thursday at 7 p.m.