Atkins with 30, Notre Dame beats Canisius 87-81 OT
December 29, 2013 (AP) – Playing without its leading scorer, Notre Dame got a career day from Eric Atkins, who scored a career-best 30 points to lead the Irish to an 87-81 overtime win Sunday over Canisius.
It has been a rough week for the Irish (9-4), who lost an 8-point lead against No. 3 Ohio State, then senior Jerian Grant to an academic violation, and sophomore reserve Cameron Biedscheid to transfer.
Garrick Sherman converted a three-point play and an offensive putback late in overtime, and Atkins drilled his career-best sixth 3-pointer with 12 seconds to play to seal the Irish win. Sherman finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds.
Billy Baron matched his career high with 33 points to lead Canisius (8-5).
Baron’s three-point play with 1:02 left tied the game at 73. In the final minutes, Canisius appeared to grab a loose ball with the shot clock winding down on Notre Dame, but stepped out of bounds, giving the ball back to Notre Dame with 28 seconds left and no shot clock. The Irish failed to get a final shot off, sending the game into overtime.
Baron drilled a deep 3-pointer at 16:44 of the second half and another one with a hand in his face four minutes later that put the Golden Griffins up by four.
Notre Dame responded with 3-pointers by Atkins and V.J. Beachem to keep it close, and Steve Vasturia’s 3 gave the Irish their first lead of the second half, 56-54 with 11:32 to go.
Canisius just kept feeding the ball to Baron, who scored 12 straight Canisius points during a 7 minute stretch in the second half until Jordan Heath knocked down a 3-pointer with 6:37 to play.
Atkins answered Baron, nearly shot for shot. The senior point guard drilled a pair of 3-pointers down the stretch, the second of which put Notre Dame back up by two with 4:28 to play in regulation.
Notre Dame started off cold, shooting 2 of 14 from the field to find itself down nine points early on as all nine scholarship players cycled through different combinations on the floor.
The Irish gradually got back into the game, and took their only lead of the first half on a Pat Connaughton pull-up jumper with 3:19 left before intermission.
Canisius answered with six straight and took a two-point lead into halftime. Chris Manhertz had eight points and seven rebounds at the break.
Grant, who averaged 19 points per game, announced on the University’s athletic website last Sunday that he was no longer enrolled in school due to an academic violation. A few days later, Biedscheid, who was sitting out this season to preserve a year of eligibility while he focused on his academics and improving his strength, was given his release from the University to seek a transfer.