It wasn’t always pretty in the first half, but Notre Dame took charge in the second half of what became a 90-62 win over Chaminade in the Maui Invitational.
Notre Dame missed too many open looks in the first half. Chaminade was able to make a lot of theirs. The offense ran hot and cold, and the Irish found themselves in a five point hole with only minutes to play in the opening twenty. Fast forward a few moments, and freshman wing Blake Wesley goes coast-to-coast for a buzzer beating layup - and it was all Notre Dame from there.
Up three going into the break, the veteran laden group would open up the second half on a 21-0 run paced by senior forward Dane Goodwin - who would finish the game with 17 points on 7-11 shooting. A mix of threes and great work around the basket and the Irish were all of a sudden up 62-38 in the blink of an eye. The rest was history. Notre Dame looked confident and poised in the final twenty minutes - something we have only seen in spurts throughout the first four games. 90-64 would end up the final score.
After a frustrating offensive performance on Monday night against a stingy St. Mary’s defense, Notre Dame would shoot 56% from the floor tonight and nearly 50% from deep (12-26) - and while it was against a Division II opponent in Chaminade, this might have been what this team needed to find their confidence on offense again. Maybe no two better than Notre Dame captains, Prentiss Hubb and Nate Laszewski. Both would finish with their best games of the season - Laszewski specifically, finishing with 15 points and 15 boards - where he was a beast all night long. Hubb went scoreless in the first but rattled off a quick 11 points halfway through the second half. Way more reminiscent of their 2020 selves.
Six Irish players would finish the game in double figures and once again Blake Wesley looks more and more like he belongs with the best in the ACC. His energy and intensity on both sides of the court is infectious, and even when he isn’t shooting particularly well he provides value beyond the stat sheet - the basketball Gods eventually rewarding him with two breakaway dunks on the night. And his transition pass to senior guard Cormac Ryan that led to an easy layup looked more like prime Joe Montana to Jerry Rice. If you were tuned into ESPNU instead of watching 1 vs. 2, you’ll understand the reference.
All in all, it was a step in the right direction for Notre Dame Men’s Hoops in game four of a long season still to go. Good defense led to better offense on numerous occasions, and once the Irish veterans figured out who the more skilled team was, there was no turning back. They stopped settling for jump shots, and they started driving to the rim. They started feeding their two big men that were bigger, better and more talented than anyone Chaminade could put on them. They found a comfort zone on both ends of the floor.
The only negative one could find in the second half is that Brey found just 2 minutes of mop up duty for his second unit. He stayed true to his past and rolled with his top 7 all game long - even with a comfortable lead for most of the final twenty. Against tougher opponents, that might prove to be an issue.
The Irish get one of those tougher opponents tomorrow night to wrap up the Maui Jim Maui Invitational. An important game that will test the psyche of this team. Notre Dame will face off against SEC foe Texas A&M, and long time friend of Brey, Buzz Williams will be on the opposite bench coaching the Aggies.
Tip off is at 8:30 PM PT (11:30 EST). Get your coffee ready, it should be a fun one.
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