Nov. 12, 2011
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Sophomore point guard Eric Atkins scored a career-high 27 points in Notre Dame's season-opening 80-67 victory over Mississippi Valley State Saturday afternoon inside Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center. The Irish have won their last 13 season openers, including all 12 of the Mike Brey era.
Atkins was 6-of-7 from the field, including 3-of-3 from three-point range. He was 12-of-12 from the free-throw line. His point and assist (6) totals were game-high figures.
Notre Dame (1-0) built an early 10-2 advantage, but Mississippi Valley State used a 14-5 run to take a one-point lead (16-15) with 11:03 remaining in the first half.
Notre Dame erased the deficit moments later when Alex Dragicevich scored on a jumper to put the Irish for good. Atkins gave the Irish a 10-point advantage (38-28) near the end of the first half after hitting six straight free throws over the final two minutes. The Fighting Irish led 38-30 at halftime.
Mississippi Valley State (0-1) trimmed its deficit to two (50-48) with 12:33 remaining in the contest. Notre Dame responded with a 20-4 run to grab an 18-point lead (70-52), its largest of the afternoon, by the 4:38 mark.
Mississippi Valley State head coach Sean Woods was ejected at the 6:12 mark of the second half after receiving two straight technical fouls. Atkins hit all four free throws following the double technical.
Senior guard Scott Martin netted 15 points, while sophomore guard Jerian Grant, who was making his Irish debut after sitting out last season, had 11 points. Junior forward Jack Cooley hauled down a game-high - and career-best - 10 rebounds.
Terrence Joyner and Kevin Burwell both tallied 14 points for Mississippi Valley State. Joyner also had a team-best nine rebounds for the Delta Devils. This was the first meeting ever between Notre Dame and Mississippi Valley State.
"I am very pleased that this team, this group, that is still trying to find itself, had to get through some tough stuff to win a game," commented Brey. "I thought we had a lot of different guys make plays for us when we had game pressure on us. I think that is only something you can build on and I hope it gets us more ready to handle Monday night and a very good team."
Notre Dame will play host to Detroit on Monday in regional-round action of the Progressive CBE Classic. Tip-off is slated for 9:00 p.m. (ET) inside Purcell Pavilion.
-- ND --