No. 6 Notre Dame rides a dominant second half to hold off No. 11 Michigan in the first round of the NCAA tournament on Friday
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Notre Dame entered halftime down 12 points despite shooting 59% from the field and outrebounding Michigan 16–10. If the perimeter defense remained porous and the Irish continued to turn the ball over, it wouldn’t matter how well they shot.
Both issues were remedied as soon as Mike Brey’s team started the second half, and the Irish surged to a 70–63 comeback victory over Michigan on Friday night in Brooklyn. Forward V.J. Beachem finished the night 7 for 7 from the floor (4 for 4 from beyond the arc) for 18 points, 13 of which came in the second half. His three-pointer with 3:12 remaining gave the Irish the lead it wouldn’t surrender, and he followed that with a mid-range jumper to make it a two-possession game.
After a sloppy first half that featured 10 turnovers, Notre Dame didn’t turn the ball over for the first 9:36 of the second half and received a stalwart defensive performance from Zach Auguste, who finished with 10 points and 12 rebounds.
Along with the needed offensive jolt, the Irish used two separate 8–0 runs and held Michigan scoreless for 5:54 midway through the second half to take their first lead of the game with 9:29 remaining in the game.
Why It Matters
Notre Dame looked destined for a loss after Michigan raced to a 7–0 run to end the first half and entered the locker room with a 41–29 lead. Instead, the Irish tightened their perimeter defense (allowing just three three-pointers in the second-half after surrendering seven in the opening 20 minutes) and found a rhythm that they sorely lacked in the opening frame.
Notre Dame will need similar discipline on offense before taking on Stephen F. Austin on Sunday, which embarrassed West Virginia by forcing an astonishing 24 turnovers.
The Irish take on Thomas Walkup and the Cinderella Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks on Sunday afternoon.