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    Irish Settle Pioneers, 106-65

    FIGHTING IRISH Jack Cooley
    FIGHTING IRISH
    Jack Cooley
    FIGHTING IRISH

    Dec. 19, 2011

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    NOTRE DAME, Ind. - The Notre Dame men's basketball team used a key surge late in the first half to dispatch visiting Sacred Heart, 106-65, Monday night inside Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center.

    The Pioneers held a seven-point lead (30-23) with 7:19 to play in the first half, but the Irish scored 35 of the game's next 42 points to build a 22-point advantage (59-37) that Sacred Heart (6-7) could not overcome.

    Five Irish players scored in double figures, including a team-high 19 points and eight rebounds from junior forward Jack Cooley. The Glenview, Ill., native was a perfect 7-for-7 from the floor and knocked down five of six free throw attempts.

    Sophomore guard Jerian Grant added 15 points and seven assists, while backcourt mate Eric Atkins tallied 13 points and dished out a game-high nine helpers, which matched a career-high total, in 31 minutes of action.

    Notre Dame (8-5) shot a season-high 61.4 percent (35-57) from the floor and also connected on a season-best nine of 17 attempts (.529) from 3-point territory, including six of nine (.667) from beyond the arc in the second half.

    The Irish held a +13 edge on the glass in the second half and outrebounded Sacred Heart, 37-24, for the game.

    The Pioneers led 20-14 after eight minutes of action behind 13 early points from a hot-shooting Shane Gibson. The Irish responded with six-straight points to even the score at 20, but Sacred Heart answered with a 7-0 run of its own to build its lead back to seven (27-20) with 9:08 to play in the half. Six points from Cooley fueled a 9-0 spurt by the Irish that put the home team back in front, 32-30, and a 3-pointer from Atkins off a good feed from Joey Brooks extended the Notre Dame advantage to five at 39-34 with 3:51 remaining in the half.

    In all, the Irish scored 25 of the final 32 points of the half and led 48-37 at the break after a 3-pointer in the final minute by Brooks.

    A 10-0 run to open the second half made it 35 of the last 42 points in favor of Notre Dame and gave the Irish a 22-point cushion (59-37). Junior forward Tom Knight converted a strong drive to the hoop to extend the Notre Dame lead to 25, and a fast-break dunk by Brooks gave Notre Dame a 30-point edge (81-51) at the 11:36 mark of the second half.

    Brooks contributed 12 points off the bench and helped the Irish gain a 38-23 scoring advantage over the Pioneers' reserves for the game.

    A 3-pointer by sophomore walk-on Patrick Crowley put the Irish over the century mark (102-65) with less than two minutes to play, and a tip-in by Crowley seconds later gave Notre Dame its largest lead of the contest at 106-65.

    Notre Dame eclipsed the 100-point plateau for the first time since a 102-62 drubbing of Chicago State on Nov. 17, 2010. The Irish are now 7-1 on the season when scoring 60 or more points.

    Gibson led the Pioneers with a game-high 22 points on 8-of-16 shooting, while Femi Akinpetide added eight points and five rebounds for Sacred Heart.

    Notre Dame enjoys a seven-day holiday break before opening BIG EAST play against No. 15/13 Pittsburgh at 7:00 p.m. (ET) on Dec. 27 inside Purcell Pavilion.

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