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Indiana University

Associated Press
Notre Dame’s Pat Connaughton dunks over Indiana’s Will Sheehey in the second half Saturday in Indianapolis. The Irish held off the Hoosiers 79-72 in the Crossroads Classic.
Crossroads Classic

Irish foil IU’s final charge

Despite plenty of momentum shifts, Notre Dame leads entire game

– Notre Dame led the entire way en route to a 79-72 win over Indiana in the Crossroads Classic on Saturday.

Despite the lack of lead changes, the game had plenty of ebbs and flows.

“In this state, to beat these guys here is powerful for our program,” Irish coach Mike Brey said. “This was the offensive efficiency machine tonight that has really been our program.”

Notre Dame (8-3) held a 13-point lead with 6:20 to go in the first half after starting the game shooting 57.1 percent from the floor.

But IU (8-3) started hitting shots, led by 16 first-half points from senior forward Will Sheehey, and IU cut the deficit to two with 38 seconds left after a Hanner Mosquera-Perea dunk off a scoop pass from Jeremy Hollowell.

Notre Dame senior guard Jerian Grant, who went 0 for 5 in a 73-69 loss to North Dakota State on Wednesday, buried a 3-pointer with 3 seconds left, and the Irish went into halftime with a 47-42 lead.

Grant finished with a game-high 23 points.

“Coach is always like ‘On to the next game,’ ” said Grant, who also had nine assists. “He’s a coach that doesn’t really dwell on a bad performance or a bad loss. Just having him and the guys on the team pick me up and say next game, it was easy to get back on track.”

Notre Dame scored 1.19 points per possession in the first half on 51.5 percent shooting, and IU shot 50 percent from the floor for 1.11 points per trip.

Those numbers cooled in the second half.

IU shot 4 of 15 in the opening eight minutes as Notre Dame built an eight-point lead. The Hoosiers broke their drought with a Yogi Ferrell 3-pointer just after the 12-minute mark.

Despite the swings, the Hoosiers could not control momentum long enough to flip the score. as the Irish answered each IU run.“We do have an experienced nucleus that has played together and won together before in these atmospheres,” Brey said. “We answered any one of their charges and, you know, guys made key plays, clutch plays – for us, something to build on.”

Senior center Garrick Sherman finished with 16 points, and after making his first six shots, his first missed shot came with 6:42 to play.

Notre Dame had a five-point lead with 2:55 left in the game, and Ferrell came up with another 3-pointer to cut the deficit to two with 2:27 remaining.

The Hoosiers finally got a defensive stop but couldn’t follow that with a basket. Then IU allowed an easy layup by Eric Atkins to give the Irish a four-point lead with just more than a minute to go.

“We made a bunch of runs,” IU coach Tom Crean said. “We could just never get all the way over the hump, whether it was a missed shot, whether it was a missed play defensively.”

IU forced a steal and got the ball out in transition on the next Notre Dame possession, but Sheehey – who tied a career high with 22 points – missed a wide-open 3-pointer at the top of the key with less than a minute remaining.

The Irish managed to create just enough distance and ice the game with free throws, and in doing so, Notre Dame gave itself a much-needed bounce-back win.

“That was a heck of a lot more fun than Wednesday night,” Brey said. “I’m really proud of my team because we were reeling a little bit after Wednesday.”