Dec. 6, 2016
By Robby Hamman
NOTRE DAME, Ind. -- Notre Dame (9-0) is off to its best start during the 17-year tenure of head coach Mike Brey, as the Irish defeated Fort Wayne (7-3) by a final of 87-72 on Tuesday evening in Purcell Pavilion to improve to 9-0. The perfect 9-0 start is the best since Notre Dame started the 1973-74 season 12-0 and the fourth best in program history.
Senior guard Steve Vasturia led the Irish in scoring with 21 points on 6-of-11 shooting from the floor. Junior forward Bonzie Colson poured in 17 points and grabbed a team-high 14 rebounds to complete his sixth consecutive double-double. The two other Irish players to reach double figures in scoring were senior forward V.J. Beachem (14) and junior guard Matt Farrell (12).
HOW IT HAPPENED
The Irish defense was locked in from the opening tip on Tuesday, as they allowed Fort Wayne to score 23 points, marking the fewest points allowed in a first half this season. Notre Dame never trailed against the Mastodons, as it built an early 10-point lead at 18-8 over the first nine minutes of play. John Mooney put an exclamation mark on the half, as the freshman threw down a putback dunk right before the buzzer to give the Irish a 41-23 lead at the break.
Notre Dame increased its lead to 27 points at 66-39 with 12 minutes remaining in the game. The Mastodons mounted a comeback over the next 10 minutes of play, as Fort Wayne managed to trim the Irish lead to nine at 81-72 with 2:47 left in the game. However, that was as close as Notre Dame would allow the visitors to get, as the Irish closed the game on a 6-0 run to win by a final of 87-72.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Colson continued his excellent run of play to start the season, as the reigning ACC Player of the Week posted his sixth straight double-double with 17 points and a team-high 14 rebounds. Colson knocked down a career-high three shots from beyond the arc and finished 6-of-11 from the floor. The New Bedford, Massachusetts native also matched his career high in assists with five.
NOTRE DAME STAT OF THE GAME
The Irish entered Tuesday as the top free throw shooting team in the country and somehow managed to improve their percentage in the matchup with Fort Wayne. Notre Dame converted 20-of-23 (87.0 percent) attempts from the foul line. Vasturia was a perfect 8-for-8 and Farrell went 4-for-4 to remain a perfect 24-for-24 from the line this season. Farrell has now knocked down his last 28 attempts from the charity stripe.
NOTES OF THE GAME
- The Irish are the last remaining unbeaten team in the ACC at 9-0.
- Notre Dame improves to 7-0 against Fort Wayne in the all-time series.
- The Irish are now 7-0 this season when playing in Purcell Pavilion.
- Notre Dame finished with 87 points and have now finished with 80-plus points in eight of nine games this season, including four straight.
- The Irish recorded 20-plus assists while giving up under 10 turnovers for the fourth time during the 2016-17 campaign. The team finished with 20 assists and six turnovers in the victory.
- With 11 three point makes, Notre Dame has now finished with double figure makes in six games this season, including its last four outings.
- The Irish started 5-for-5 from the free throw line before missing their first free throw. The miss snapped a streak of 31 consecutive makes, which began in the win over Iowa.
- Notre Dame has scored 40-plus points in the first half of eight of its nine games this season and have held the lead at the intermission in all nine outings.
- Beachem's 14 points mark his 15th consecutive game with double-figure scoring.
- Beachem also grabbed a season-high eight rebounds, just one shy of matching his career record.
- With a team-high 21 points, Vasturia has now reached double figures in eight of nine games, including six straight.
- Farrell led the team in assists with six and has now dished out six or more assists in six games this season.
The Irish hit the road for the first time in December to face defending national champion No. 1 Villanova in a neutral site game in Newark, New Jersey inside the Prudential Center at noon on Saturday, Dec. 10. The game will air on CBS.
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.