Nov. 22, 2016
By Robby Hamman
BROOKLYN, N.Y. -- Trailing by one point at 66-65 with 20 seconds remaining, the Irish forced an errant Northwestern inbounds pass and junior guard Matt Farrell got to the rim and somehow found a way to finish a circuis layup while being fouled to give Notre Dame a 68-66 lead after the made free throw. The play was the deciding factor, as Notre Dame (5-0) won by a final of 70-66 over Northwestern (3-2) to win the Legends Classic and remain perfect on the season.
The Legends Classic title marks Notre Dame's first in-season tournament championship since winning the Old Spice Classic in 2010 and is the first time the Irish have ever won four games in an in-season tournament. Notre Dame's 5-0 record is the best start to a season since beginning the 2010 campaign 8-0.
Senior guard Steve Vasturia had a night to remember, scoring 18 points on 6-of-11 shooting to give him exactly 1,000 points for his career. Farrell also scored 18 to go along with his game-winning bucket. Junior forward Bonzie Colson notched his second double-double in as many outings, scoring 13 points and grabbing a team-high 11 boards in the win.
HOW IT HAPPENED
For the second times in as many nights, the Irish offense played a beautiful, free-flowing style of basketball in the opening 20 minutes, as Notre Dame reached the 40-point mark before the halftime horn for the fourth time in five games this season. Behind 11 points from Farrell, the Irish led the Wildcats 40-34 at the end of the first. Notre Dame shot 12-of-24 from the floor, including an impressive 6-of-10 from beyond the arc to take the six-point lead into the intermission.
The Irish quickly doubled their lead in the first two minutes of the second half, as a Vasturia make from beyond the arc made the score 48-36 with 18 minutes to play. The Wildcats roared back over the next 12 minutes of play, knocking down six shots from three-point range while holding the Irish offense in check to take a 64-58 lead with six minutes remaining.
Notre Dame answered emphatically. After cutting the lead to one at 64-63, Farrell threw a perfect alley-oop pass to Beachem who finished with authority at the rim to regain the lead with 3:12 to play at 65-64. A Northwestern jumper from Bryant McIntosh put the Wildcats back on top with 41 seconds left and set the stage for the thrilling finish from Farrell.
PLAYER OF THE GAME NOMINATION NO. 1
Farrell not only fulfilled the hero role in the game's final seconds but also had a strong performance througout the evening. The point guard scored 18 points and dished out six assists. Farrell averaged 19.0 points in the two games at the Barclays Center.
PLAYER OF THE GAME NOMINATION NO. 2
Vasturia matched Farrell in points with 18 of his own on 6-of-11 shooting. The 18 points mark a season high for the Medford, New Jersey native. The senior also recorded a career-high eight rebounds, four steals and two assists to complete his impressive performance.
PLAYER OF THE GAME NOMINATION NO. 3
Colson did much of the dirty work underneath for Notre Dame, leading the team with 11 rebounds and scoring 13 points for his second double-double of the season. The forward averaged 17.5 points and 11.5 rebounds in his two nights in Brooklyn.
NOTRE DAME STAT OF THE GAME
The Irish have made a habit in getting off to great starts in games but on Tuesday it was the ability to finish strong that stood out. Notre Dame finished the game by scoring 12 of the final 14 points over the last six minutes of play to secure the win. Farrell produced the final five points, all within the last 30 seconds of the contest.
NOTES OF THE GAME
- The Irish are now 4-1 when playing in the Barclays Center and have won four straight, all in tournament situations.
- Notre Dame is 50-35 when playing in-season tournament games, as Tuesday's contest was Notre Dame's fourth and final game in the Legends Classic.
- The Irish have scored 40-plus points in the first half of four of its five games this season.
- Notre Dame has not recorded a double-digit turnover game through five games this season, as it finished with just seven on Tuesday. The Irish average the fewest turnovers per game in the nation.
- The double-double was Colson's second of the season and sixth of his career.
- Vasturia swiped four steals for the fifth time in his career, matching his personal best for a game.
- Senior guard V.J. Beachem scored 11 points, marking the 11th consecutive game with double-figure scoring.
- Farrell's six assists tie his career high for the category.
The Irish return to Purcell Pavilion to host Chicago State at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 26. The game will air live on ACC Network Extra. To purchase tickets visit UND.com/BuyTickets.
Robby Hamman joined Fighting Irish Media as athletics communications assistant director in September 2016, coordinating efforts for the volleyball and men's lacrosse program. Hamman is a 2010 graduate of Bethel College, where he earned bachelor's degrees in sport management and business administration, and earned his master's degree in business administration from Defiance College in 2013.