A quick blowout would have been nice, but the Irish were able to slowly put the game out of reach against an awful shooting George Mason team. Strong defense for the entire contest allowed Notre Dame to overcome a sluggish night offensively.
First half, Notre Dame jumped out to a double digit lead quickly using three pointers from five different players. Luke Harangody was dominant when he got the ball in the lane, but played too far away from the basket at times.
In the second half, the Irish looked perfectly happy wearing down the opposition. Instead of putting George Mason away with a quick run to start the period, the team kept the lead in the teens the rest of the game. Down the stretch, lots of spacing on the offensive end ran down the shot clock and drained the blood out of the Patriots.
Good to see that senior Rob Kurz did not end his career with this contest. Only 6 points while fouling out early. 2-4 from three, not much else to mention.
Luke Harangody with yet another double-double. 18 points, 14 rebounds. Really came back to take control in the second half after playing too far out in the first period. 8-19 from the field is a little deceiving as he missed four in a row on tip-ins. Was able to dominate in the paint against the smaller Patriot lineup. Hillesland and Kurz spent most of the game guarding Will Thomas, but Harangody can take some of the blame for Thomas going off. Other than that, however, a very solid night.
Tory Jackson with 6 points and 8 rebounds. Made some dumb mistakes turning the ball over, but played an overall solid game. Broke down the defense a few times with drives in the key, hitting layups or dishing to an open teammate.
Kyle McAlarney was harrassed by the George Mason defense from the start, but overcame a poor first half shooting to finish with 15 points on 3-7 from beyond the arc. Had plenty of help stretching the defense from the rest of the team tonight, as well.
Zach Hillesland scored six, but more importantly grabbed 11 rebounds and 5 assists. Great job with the all-around game as usual, making important contributions in every category.
Off the bench, how about Ryan Ayers? 12 points on 5-9 shooting. Showed great poise hitting two pointers on the break. Could have had 6-9 more had Brey allowed him to continue to shoot threes as the game wound down and he got looks in transition. Jonathan Peoples played sparingly. Luke Zeller hit a three. Tim Abromaitis and Ty Nash got some playing time, so good for them. Abro even got his first NCAA tourney points.
For George Mason, Will Thomas finished his career with a great performance. 25 points, 7 rebounds. Seemed the wear down in the second half as the Irish looked far fresher than their opponents. No other Patriots in double figures. Folarin Campbell had a terrible night shooting and just could not knock down anything all game.
Kind of a boring game, but will definitely take it. More analysis when I get a chance tomorrow, but great way to start the tournament with an easy win. Solid D was nice to see for the first time in a while. Bring on Washington State.