There has been much discussion on social media surrounding the men’s basketball team since their loss to Indiana on Saturday. Fans questioning how do you blow a lead in a game like the Crossroads Classic that, on paper, you should win? Some will say that ND should beat Dartmouth handily because of their record. Would that be case on Tuesday night? Or will the Fighting Irish be caught up in another close match against the Big Green? Let’s throw the ball up in the air and lets see what happened Tuesday night at the Purcell Pavilion in a non-conference match-up.
The start of the game was very slow. Both teams struggled to find themselves early on. Most would have expected the Fighting Irish to get off to a quick start against Big Green of Dartmouth, but that definitely was not the case on Tuesday night for the Irish. The challenge of taking the shot or dishing it off continues to surround Rex Pflueger. Early on Pflueger had some good looks but chose to to dish the ball to teammates almost resulting in turnovers.
Enter #35, Bonzie Colson.
Colson was a beast on the defensive glass with six rebounds in the first half. Colson also started to pick up his game on the offensive end of the court as well. The Irish went on a run of 13-6 run to end the first half. Colson had 10 of the 13 points scored including two three pointers. At one point in the first half, Colson was playing so hard on defense, he came out of his sneaker and continued to push the ball down the court. Much like Jessica Shepard for the Lady Irish on Sunday night, the Irish needed every one of the 10 points to take a 46-39 lead into the locker room to end the half. Matt Farrell, not to be left out of the conversation, had 13 points, including 2-4 from beyond the arc as well in the first half.
The second half start had a “deja vu” type of feel to it. Like the first half, both teams struggled to get a start out of the gate. There was a stretch of time where the basket seemed to shrink for the Fighting Irish. Without warning, Colson took control of the offensive side of the ball and went into #BeastMode. Colson would explode for 21 points in the second half and set a new career high with 37 points. Colson and coupled his points with 11 rebounds, 9 of which came from the defensive end.
Matt Farrell would not be denied his points either. Farrell’s contribution to the cause was an additional 22 points. Farrell drained four three pointers. Both Pflueger and Geben had 13 points The Irish appeared to have better ball control in the second half. There is a back story to all of this. The minutes put in by four the five players. Pflueger and Farrell both had 39 minutes, and Colson and Gibbs had 37 minutes. The Irish would go onto beat Dartmouth 97-87.
In Coach Brey’s post game press conference, he started of with “typically when your opponent shoots 15 three pointers, you lose. that didn’t happen tonight.” Coach would praise Colson and Farrell for their exceptional play and say “guys play like that every night. Score 50 points and don’t worry about sharing the ball. I got to ask Coach Brey my first question which also ended being the last of the press conference.
My question to Coach was “the team came out slow in the first half as well as the second half. How do you fix that from continuing into conference play?” Coach responded with “I don’t know, not quite sure i have the answer to that. It’s always great to make some jump shots early we had some open looks we didn’t make. This team can drive it better and when we swing it and drive it and we get fouled and we got to the bonus quick because we were driving so much. I am not losing any sleep over it. I just don’t want us to getting emotionally of our rocker if we are not in a good offensive rhythm.”
The Fighting Irish are back in action to close out non-conference play against South Eastern Louisiana on Thursday night at 7 PM. Congratulations and #GoIrish.
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