Irish open Big East slate by blowing out Seton Hall
Posted: 01/05/2013 at 2:00 pm
By: TOM COYNE
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Notre Dame forward Jack Cooley, right, gets ready to throw a pass as Seton Hall center Gene Teague defends during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Jan. 5, 2013, in South Bend, Ind. (AP Photo/Joe Raymond)
The winning streak is the second-longest for the Irish (13-1, 1-0 Big East) in 13 seasons under coach Mike Brey. The loss ended a seven-game winning streak for Seton Hall (12-3, 1-1).
Seton Hall, playing with only eight scholarship players available because of injuries, kept the game close until the Irish finished the first half on a 7-2 spurt, then opened the second half with a 16-4 run to move ahead 60-41.
Fuquan Edwin and Aaron Cosby had 21 points each for the Pirates and Gene Teague had 17 points and nine rebounds.
Eric Atkins added 17 points and 10 assists for the Irish.
The Irish, playing their first game in 15 days, struggled defensively at times as the Pirates drove inside for baskets, but finally got going late in the first half. The Irish opened a 35-25 lead with 3:40 left in the first half on a three-point play by Cooley to cap a 10-2 run. The Pirates quickly cut the lead to 37-34 with three baskets inside, including a fast break by Edwin, and a 3-pointer by Haralds Karlis. But a late run by the Irish opened the 44-36 halftime lead.
Martin started the second half with two quick 3-pointers sandwiched around a 15-foot jumper by Jerian Grant, who had 13 points. Another 3-pointer by Martin 3 minutes into the second half gave the Irish a 58-41 lead. Pat Connaughton then scored on a rebound of his own missed shot to make it 60-41. The Irish later stretched the lead to 66-43 with another 3 by Martin, who was 6 of 7 from 3-point range.
Seton Hall didn't get any closer the rest of the way and the Irish later extended the lead to 24 points.
With most Irish fans focused on Monday night's BCS title game between top-ranked Notre Dame and No. 2 Alabama and students off campus for the holiday break, a crowd of only 8,523 showed as the Irish won for the 46th time in their last 47 home games.
Seton Hall backup center Kevin Johnson returned after missing two games after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery to repair a slightly torn meniscus, but played only 5 minutes.
The Irish will have a chance to match their longest winning streak under Brey when they play at No. 14 Cincinnati on Monday. The previous 12-game winning streak was during 2006-07.