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Notre Dame cruises past Grambling State 81-54

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SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Grambling State’s zone defense and ball-control offense caught Notre Dame a bit off guard Wednesday night, but the Irish rode accurate shooting to an 81-54 win.

“That had to be the quickest college basketball game in history, because they’re burning and they’re playing zone,” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. “It was kind of unique thing mentally to play against because you’re guarding the last 10 seconds of the shot clock, and then you’re playing against zone.”

First-year Grambling State coach Shawn Walker said he had no choice but to slow things down against the more talented Irish.

“Their pressure can be overwhelming, so we tried to spread the court tonight and kill the clock a little bit,” Walker said.

Walker said the strategy resulted in some size mismatches that favored his team. While recognizing that his Tigers lost by 27, he said he was proud of their effort, which included only six turnovers (two in the last 40 seconds) and 29 rebounds (just one less than Notre Dame’s 30).

“Notre Dame played hard but I think we played harder than they did, longer than they did,” Walker said. “We actually challenged them tonight. If they make six 3’s instead of 12, I believe we’ve got a ballgame down the stretch.”

Four of those 3-pointers came from Demetrius Jackson, who led the Irish (5-1) with 17 points.

“I got better looks, I had my feet set and just shot with confidence,” Jackson said. “I actually passed a couple up in the beginning and coach got on me to shoot them.”

The teams traded baskets over the first five minutes before the Irish got a big boost from their bench. With the score tied at 10, Notre Dame went on a 16-4 run over a 4:48 span, with 10 of those points coming from reserves Martinas Geben (5), V.J. Beachem (3) and Austin Burgett (2).

“Right before me and Martin went in, I told him, `Let’s go, we got to bring some energy,” Beachem said. “I’m glad we were able to do it.”

Hitting 7-of-14 from 3-point range in the first half helped Notre Dame build its lead up to 20 with 5:33 left in the first half, leading to a 44-30 margin at the break.

Notre Dame hit 46 percent from beyond the arc for the game — compared to their 40-percent season average — and edged Grambling State (1-4) 30-29 in rebounds, after averaging 35.2 rebounds per game this season.

Grambling State’s A’Torri Shine led all scorers with 21.

TIP-INS

NOTRE DAME: Entering the Grambling State game, four of the team’s five starters were averaging double-figures per game in scoring.

GRAMBLING STATE: Head coach Shawn Walker is in his first year heading a Division 1 team, after leading Division II Elizabeth City State the past 13 seasons, taking that team to its conference finals three times.

TAKE THE SHOT:

Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said he was pleased to see his point guard, Demetrius Jackson, shoot the ball more Wednesday night against Grambling State. Jackson scored 17, after averaging 11 points per game coming in.

“I don’t want him and Jerrian (Grant), when the ball reverses to you and you have a clean look, we want you to shoot it, not, `Can I get closer? Should I drive one more time?”

UP NEXT

NOTRE DAME: Host Chicago State on Saturday.

GRAMBLING STATE: Visit Air Force Wednesday

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