March 16, 2017
By Robby Hamman
BUFFALO, New York - Notre Dame (26-9) defeated Princeton (23-7) in the first round of the NCAA tournament on Thursday afternoon by a final score of 60-58 in the KeyBank Center. The Irish have now won three consecutive first round games in the NCAA tournament and seven of their last nine games in the tourney.
Three Irish players finished in double figures in the points column. Junior forward Bonzie Colson led the way with 18 points and seven rebounds. Junior guard Matt Farrell poured in 16 points and senior guard Steve Vasturia added 10.
How It Happened
The opening stages of the game were back and forth, as Princeton held a 17-15 lead with 11:24 remaining in the first half. Over the next four minutes Notre Dame scored 10 unanswered points to open up an eight point advantage at 25-17. The Irish took a six-point lead into the halftime break at 36-30. Colson led Notre Dame with 10 points while Farrell added eight.
Notre Dame opened the second stanza by scoring nine of the first 13 points out of the gate to push its lead to double figures for the first time of the game at 45-34 with under 14 minutes to play. The Tigers responded by cutting the lead to five points at 50-45 with 8:35 left in regulation off an and-one three from Devin Cannady. Princeton continued to chip away at the Irish lead, making it a one-possession game at 53-51 with just under five minutes remaining.
After a Princeton make made it a one point game, Colson scored four straight for the Irish to push the lead back up to five at 59-54 with 1:10 left on the clock. Princeton made one last run at the Irish, as Pete Miller tipped in a missed shot with 16 seconds left to trim the lead to one at 59-58. After Notre Dame missed the front end of a one-and-one opportunity at the charity stripe the Tigers raced down the court and Cannady heaved a three in the final seconds. The shot was off and Vasturia came up with the rebound to secure the victory.
Notre Dame Player Of The Game
A day after earning high praise from head coach Mike Brey, Farrell backed it up with a remarkable all-around performance. The junior scored 16 points on an efficient 6-of-9 shooting, including a 3-for-5 effort from beyond the arc. Farrell also added four assists, four rebounds and two steals to complete his day.
Notre Dame Stat Of The Game
The Irish did a great job of minimizing mistakes on the offensive end, as Notre Dame finished with just six turnovers. The team has recorded fewer than 10 turnovers in nine consecutive games and 23 times this season.
Notre Dame Notes
- The Irish have won seven games over the past three seasons, matching the record for the most over a four-year span.
- Notre Dame now has an all-time NCAA tournament record of 39-38.
- In the victory the 2016-17 senior class of Steve Vasturia, V.J. Beachem and Austin Torres posted its 97th career win, which is tied for the most in Notre Dame history over a four-year period (set by the 2012-13 senior class).
- The Irish are 3-1 against Princeton in the all-time series and 1-0 against the Tigers in the NCAA tournament.
- Notre Dame outrebounded Princeton 36-33 and improve to 14-1 when outrebounding the opposition this season.
- Vasturia moves into a tie for second place for most games played for a career in Notre Dame all-time history with 136 games.
- With a made three-point shot to score Notre Dame's first points of the game, Farrell extended his streak of consecutive games with a make from distance to 25 games. The streak is the second best streak of any ACC player this season.
- Colson recorded his 33rd performance with 10-plus points during his junior campaign after scoring 18 points.
- Farrell surpassed the 10-point mark for the 30th time this season with 16 points.
- Vasturia posted a double-digit point total for the 26th time in 2017 with 10 points.
The Irish will take on the winner of the West Virginia-Bucknell game in the second round of the NCAA tournament. The game will be played at the KeyBank Center in Buffalo. The start time and channel the game will be broadcast on are yet to be determined.
Robby Hamman joined Fighting Irish Media as athletics communications assistant director in September 2016, coordinating efforts for the volleyball and men's lacrosse program.