Jack Cooley's hot second half helped the Irish blow away the Storm inside, as a storm raged outside. - Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
The fight overshadowed a great performance by the Irish... and serious stagnancy from the D`Angelo Harrison-free Red Storm.
I know, I know, you want to talk about the fight. I started writing about the fight and its significance (or insignificance), but I'll leave that for another post that I will link here.
Right now, let's recap in two parts (click on the link to go to the part you want):
- what the papers are saying about the game itself...
- and then a recap of some of the fight coverage from the NY Paper scribes who were there.
Rumble Recap // Johnnies' youth and impatience snowballs into 66-40 loss
The Johnnies knew that the only way they would have a chance to beat the Irish again would be to take advantage of the significant athleticism discrepancy. Notre Dame once again looked timid and over-matched against the Red Storm's athletic defense early on.
....St. John's suffocated Mike Brey's team defensively during the first half, both along the perimeter and in the paint. They blocked six Irish shot attempts before halftime.
But the Johnnies missed too many shots, and subsequently missed an opportunity to extend its lead against the superior Irish. With a blink of an eye, Notre Dame took a five-point lead following an 14-2 run capped by an Eric Atkins three-pointer.
"We just did such a good job stopping their transition points that it got them frustrated," Jack Cooley said after the game, "they didn't want to play defense because they were too focused on not scoring."
The free-flowing offensive attack that the Johnnies exerted in the latter part of the second half dwindled away as the Red Storm reverted back to its halfcourt stagnancy. They scored just four points in the first eight minutes after halftime.
St. John's led by as many as seven in the first half and took a four-point lead into halftime, but made just five field goals as part of a 14-point second half effort as Notre Dame shot 68.0 percent (17-of-25) after the break and rolled to a 66-40 victory against the Red Storm.
"You don't have to look beyond the second half shooting percentages to realize what the difference was in this game," said St. John's head coach Steve Lavin. "We were able to keep Notre Dame in check during the first half, but they pounded us in the paint during the second half with high percentage shots."
South Bend Tribune // Notre Dame men's basketball: Irish fight back to beat St. John's
"That was a crazy run that we went on," said senior power forward Jack Cooley, who delivered his 19th double-double for points and rebounds this season and 32nd in his career with 12 and 13 in his final home game. "It was great to see."
The win bumped Notre Dame to 23-7 and 11-6 in the Big East, where it sits tied with Pittsburgh for fourth place with one regular-season game remaining. After struggling for 24 points the first 22 minutes, the Irish hit for 42 the final 18. Along the way, they set a school record for fewest points allowed in a Big East game.
"We really just got into a nice rhythm," said guard Eric Atkins. "We just did a great job defensively."
The Torch // Pop Goes the Bubble
St. John’s entered yesterday’s game fighting for their NCAA tournament life. It exited simply fighting, with any hopes of dancing long gone.
The Red Storm, who held a four-point lead going into halftime before being outscored 44-14 in the second half, fell to No. 24 Notre Dame 66-40 at Purcell Pavilion in South Bend, Ind.
Notre Dame Observer // Men's Basketball: Seniors seize the storm
On a wintry South Bend night, the No. 24 Irish used a red-hot second half and overcame icy first-half shooting to finally defeat St. John’s 66-40 on Senior Night at Purcell Pavilion on Tuesday.
Propelled by a dominant second half, Notre Dame (23-7, 11-6 Big East) snapped a three-game losing skid to the Red Storm (16-13, 8-9). The Irish outscored St. John’s 44-14 in the second frame after a lethargic first half.
"Thank God there was a second half," Irish coach Mike Brey said. "I am thrilled how we defended in the second half and then we finally got into an offensive rhythm. We were able to get out in transition a little bit and not have to play against their set defense."
AP via The State (SC)// Grant's 21 lead Irish to 66-40 win over St. John's
St. John's athleticism gave the Irish problems early as the Red Storm outscored the Irish 14-4 in the paint in the first half and had six blocked shots as they took a seven-point lead late in the first half. But the Irish shot their way out of it, making 68 percent of their shots in the second half after shooting 28 percent in the first half.
After the Red Storm took a 28-24 lead on a rebound basket by Jamal Branch, Pat Connaughton hit a jumper then made two free throws moments later to ignite an 11-2 run. Tom Knight muscled up over two Red Storm defenders and Connaughton scored again inside before Grant and Atkins capped the run with 3-pointers to give the Irish a 38-30 lead.
Journal Gazette // Irish fight Red Storm for victory
After shooting 28 percent from the field in the first half, the Irish shot 68 percent in the second en route to a 66-40 victory Tuesday. Grant had 21 points and eight assists, Atkins added 15 points and seven assists, and the two had just one turnover apiece.
"Our guards ran the whole building tonight," Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. "They probably took tickets, sold popcorn. When our guards are playing like that, I just sit down and shut up and let them do whatever they want. They were fabulous to watch."
The frustration of St. John’s last two weeks bubbled over Tuesday night in the final minutes of its worst loss of the season. Trash talk between the Red Storm’s Sir’Dominic Pointer and Notre Dame’s Cameron Biedscheid peaked in a fist fight that led to multiple ejections for the Johnnies in their 66-40 loss to the No. 24 Fighting Irish at the Joyce Center.
Two weeks ago, St. John’s was an NCAA Tournament contender. Since then, the Red Storm (16-13, 8-9 Big East) has been in a nose-dive that only picked up speed as Notre Dame steamrolled the Johnnies in the second half. A loss to Pittsburgh at the Garden was followed by the season-ending suspension of leading scorer D`Angelo Harrison last Friday and a status-dropping loss at Providence Saturday in which Harrison’s offense was clearly missed.
Getting outscored 44-14 in the second half by Notre Dame (23-7, 11-6) upped the frustration for a team of predominately freshmen and sophomores.
Last night, the Red Storm players were detrimental to the image of St. John’s.
In a 77-58 loss at Syracuse on Feb. 10, administrators at the highest level of St. John’s were embarrassed when Harrison turned his back on a team huddle. That looks like a parking ticket compared to last night’s second-half meltdown.
St. John’s led 26-22 at the half, but after Notre Dame tied the score at 30-30, the Johnnies scored just 10 points over the final 15:08. Without Harrison’s long-range shooting, the Johnnies were 1-for-13 on 3-pointers, making them 2-for-24 in the two games since the sophomore was suspended.
Unable to score against Notre Dame’s packed-in defense, the frustration level soared. Phil Greene IV was leveled by a hard, clean pick at midcourt by the 6-foot-9, 246-pound Cooley. Pointer was called for a flagrant-1 foul with 6:39 left for throwing an elbow. The Johnnies, losers of three straight and six of their past eight, blew a gasket.
ESPN NY // St. John's loss ends in near-brawl
There's simply no excuse for the lack of composure. Yes, St. John's is a young team. But Pointer is a sophomore, with 61 games and 42 starts under his belt. Biedscheid, on the other hand, is just a freshman.
Lavin took over at St. John's in the spring of 2010 and did a wonderful job in his first season, guiding an inherited roster to the school's first NCAA Tournament berth since 2002.
But now his Red Storm are on the verge of missing the Big Dance for the second year in a row.
The low point of Lavin's St. John's tenure thus far was Tuesday night. It doesn't get much uglier than the second half in South Bend -- particularly the final two minutes.
CBS Sports/ Matt Norlander // Actual Fighting Irish: Punches traded in St. John's-Notre Dame game
As you can see, Pointer really leaps into Biedscheid, and that's what brings Brey onto the court. College hoops doesn't need ugly incidents like this to dominate headlines heading into postseason tournaments. Everyone loves to talk about a fight, but really, let's be happy this didn't escalate.
Notre Dame, which is now 23-7, is headed to its fourth straight NCAA tourney and its sixth in the past seven years. St. John's -- which just recently suspended its best player for the season -- could be headed to the NIT, now with a 16-13 record.