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Notre Dame matches best start under Mike Brey

V.J. Beachem (Photo by the Associated Press)
V.J. Beachem (Photo by the Associated Press)
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press
Sunday, December 04, 2016 08:17 pm
SOUTH BEND — V.J. Beachem scored 19 points and Notre Dame matched its best start under coach Mike Brey with a 107-53 win over North Carolina A&T on Sunday night. Beachem, a New Haven High School alum, was 7 of 14 from the floor. Matt Ryan knocked down five 3-pointers to finish with 17 points, and Matt Farrell added 15 points for the Irish (8-0), who scored over 100 points for the first time this season, and at least 91 points for the third straight game.

"It's fun to watch that group play," Brey said. "They're really special, man, how they like playing together and sharing the ball."

Bonzie Colson had 10 points and 11 rebounds for his fifth straight double-double for Notre Dame, which had seven players score in double figures. Steve Vasturia added 13 points.

"It's just a great way to play," Beachem said of Notre Dame's offensive style. "I think everybody's really bought into it."

Eliel Gonzalez led North Carolina A&T with a season-high 18 points. After opening the season with a win, the Aggies (1-7) have lost seven straight. Sam Hunt finished with 17 points.

Coming in as the second best free-throw shooting team in the nation, Notre Dame continued its hot streak from the line by going a perfect 14 of 14.

"There's amazing confidence there right now," Brey said of his team's foul shooting. "If we miss, the crowd may just get up and walk out of the building. We've spoiled them."

The Irish also lit it up from 3-point range, going 19 of 35 (54 percent).

Beachem started 1 of 7 and scored just three first-half points, but his alley-oop dunk from Farrell with about five minutes to play put the Irish ahead by 44 points. "My shot was a little flat and offensively, I really don't know," Beachem said. "I just couldn't get it going offensively. The second half I got my shot up a little more and guys were still finding me and had confidence in me still and I was able to knock some down."

Notre Dame blew the game open early in the second half with a 12-1 run.

Gonzalez's 3-pointer early in the first half tied the game for NC A&T, but Notre Dame went on a 14-2 run over the next three minutes to open up a 23-11 lead with 12 minutes to play before halftime. The Irish led by as much as 21 in the first half and went into the break with a 16-point advantage.

"In the second half, I thought our energy level dropped," said North Carolina A&T coach Jay Joyner. "They're hard to defend."

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Notre Dame finished two spots out of this week's AP poll, but after a win over Iowa on Tuesday in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge and losses earlier in the week by No. 19 Iowa State (twice), No. 21 Rhode Island, and No. 22 Syracuse, the Irish could find themselves in the rankings for the first time this season.

TIP-INS

Assistant coach Ray "Dice" Martin, in his first year at A&T, is a former Notre Dame point guard and served as team captain in 1977. ... The unselfish Irish, who are second in the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio, had 29 assists on 37 field goals.

BIG PICTURE



North Carolina A&T: If the Aggies want to snap their losing streak, they'll have to do better on the glass. After NC A&T got beat on the boards, 47-25 against North Dakota State on Friday, Notre Dame owned a 44-31 rebounding advantage.

Notre Dame: The Irish also opened the 2010-11 season with eight straight wins. That team went 27-7, finished second in the Big East, and featured the Big East player of the year in Ben Hansbrough, but was upset in the third round of the NCAA Tournament by Florida State.

UP NEXT

North Carolina A&T: Starting with this game in South Bend, the Aggies are on the road for six of their next seven contests, including a trip to face Massachusetts in Amherst on Dec. 13.

Notre Dame: The Irish face the Fort Wayne Mastodons on Tuesday, and they better not overlook the 'Dons before gearing up for their first major test of the season Saturday at No. 2 Villanova, which will likely be No. 1 after Kentucky's loss to UCLA. The Mastodons already have a top-five win this year, beating then-No. 3 Indiana 71-68 at Memorial Coliseum on Nov. 22.

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