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Irish Insights


Irish find new way to win

Notre Dame's 65-47 victory over Dartmouth on Saturday night in Purcell Pavilion was another oddity in a season full of them for the Irish.

Notre Dame (6-5) won its second game in a row and 26th straight at home without getting a single point from its leading scorers, and a program that has made a living behind the three-point line didn't sink one from behind the arc until three minutes into the second half.

Oh, and by the way, senior co-captains Tim Abromaitis and Scott Martin both watched the game from the bench in street clothes. Abromaitis is out of the season with a knee injury, and Martin was held out against the Big Green after suffering a concussion in Thursday's 87-78 win over Maine.

"It's interesting to find out new things about our team every week," coach Mike Brey said.

Notre Dame used its seventh different starting lineup because of Martin's absence. Forwards Jack Cooley and Tom Knight started for the first time together and they were surrounded by guards Eric Atkins, Alex Dragicevich and Pat Connaughton.

"I've been proud of our group," Brey said. "They've been thrown a lot of curves. Guys have stepped up and played. I really believe that is going to help us down the road."

What will also help the Irish down the road is if they can continue to dominate down low the way it did against Dartmouth (2-6).

Notre Dame scored 36 points in the paint led by Cooley's game-high 22 points. The 6-foot-9 junior also grabbed nine rebounds in a strong follow-up to his 22-point, 14-rebound performance against Maine.

"That's huge, it's great to see," Cooley said of the points in the paint. "It's a relief to know everyone is feeding the post now. It is helping the offense so much.

The Irish's ability to score down low was so strong that Atkins, who averages a team-high 15.6 points, and Jerian Grant, who averages 13.6, didn't score, and they didn't need to use the three-point line to put a team away.

Notre Dame didn't sink a three-pointer until Dragicevich, who finished with 15 points, sunk a three with 17:14 to play.

"Wow, I can't believe that. That's pretty phenomenal. I should start shooting threes now in the first half is what I got from that," Cooley said with a smile.

Notre Dame will not need any three-pointers from Cooley, but the Irish will need him to continue to be a force down low when they play in the Crossroads Classic in Indianapolis next weekend against Indiana, which knocked off No. 1 Kentucky on Saturday.