Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey wanted to challenge his 2020-21 basketball team, and the Fighting Irish certainly got that in the season opening loss to the 13th-ranked Michigan State Spartans. Notre Dame dropped its season opener by an 80-70 score, but the game was never really in doubt.
It was a matchup of Notre Dame’s perimeter skill against Michigan State’s size and physicality, and it was the Spartans style that carried the night.
Things started out well for the Irish, who used an early 8-0 run to take an 18-15 lead that eventually got extended to 26-22 thanks to a hot start from behind the three-point line. That would be the end of Notre Dame making this game competitive, as Michigan State closed out the final 7:12 of the opening with a 17-0 run to give the Spartans a 39-26 lead at the break.
Notre Dame went 0-12 from the field and committed three turnovers during that decisive run, which carried over into the second half, as the Spartans scored the first nine points of the final period, extending its run to 26-0 and putting this game out of reach early.
Michigan State absolutely dominated Notre Dame in the paint on both sides of the court. The Irish tried to push the ball inside to Juwon Durham, but the veteran big man made just two of seven shots.
Notre Dame’s early ball movement that resulted in its initial lead dissipated as Michigan State started sending Irish shots in the opposite direction. The Spartans reached double figures in blocked shots in the first half, and that post dominance got Notre Dame out of rhythm, and the Irish started rushing shots and got out of their sets.
Michigan State dominated in the paint on the opposite end as well, out-scoring the Irish 22-8 down low in the opening half. Notre Dame was one shot and done due to the Spartans dominance on the glass.
Notre Dame never challenged the Spartans in the final twenty minutes.
The Irish were led by Prentiss Hubb, who scored 23 points in the opener. It was an inefficient 23, however, as Hubb went just 7-22 from the field. Hubb also had five turnovers.
Transfer guard Cormac Ryan started off well for the Irish, knocking down two early triples as the Irish built a lead, but he went ice cold and didn’t score another basket until the 5:15 mark of the second half. Ryan, a captain, finished the game with 13 points, going 3-12 from the floor.
Junior forward Nate Laszewski got off to a good start as well before being sidelined with three early fouls. Laszewski scored 12 points (4-6 from the floor) and a team-high nine rebounds.
Marquette transfer Joey Hauser dominated the Irish down low, scoring 10 boards and a game-high 16 rebounds. Forward Aaron Henry led the Spartans with 14 points to go with eight rebounds, and he tied Macus Bingham Jr. for the team lead with four blocked shots.
Notre Dame gets back to action on Wednesday, Dec. 2 when it hosts Western Michigan.
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