SOUTH BEND – Seton Hall knew it was in for a challenge trying to slow Jack Cooley and Eric Atkins against No. 21 Notre Dame. When Scott Martin began hitting threes over the Pirates’ zone defense, they had no chance.
Martin had a season-high 22 points on a career-high six three-pointers to lead the Irish to a 93-74 victory Saturday.
“That was great to see,” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. “That’s a weapon that is a new kind of a weapon for us that we’re really going to need to count on through the rest of the Big East.”
Cooley added 19 points and 13 rebounds and Atkins had 17 points and 10 assists as the Irish (13-1, 1-0 Big East) won their 11th straight, their second-longest winning streak in 13 seasons under Brey. The loss ended a seven-game winning streak for Seton Hall (12-3, 1-1).
It was the best game of the season for Martin, whose previous high was 14 points with four three-pointers in a victory over Brown. Martin, a sixth-year senior, said he focused on improving his outside shooting during the offseason with the help of his younger brother, Andy.
“He came over and hung out with me this summer, worked me out, and I was able to get some shots up. We worked on the jumper. He ironed it out. We discussed all of the little mechanics. No big changes, just little things. He did a lot of rebounding for me,” Martin said.
Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard noticed the difference.
“He’s got a much more fluid release. Plus he’s just a very smart basketball player. He doesn’t get in trouble. He really complements Cooley really well,” Willard said.
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 fastbreak by Fuquan Edwin, and a three-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 three-pointers sandwiched around a 15-foot jumper by Jerian Grant, who had 13 points. Another three-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 three by Martin, who was 6 of 7 from three-point range.
“We kind of lost him a few times, and they did a good job of finding him,” Seton Hall guard Aaron Cosby said.
Cosby and Edwin led the Pirates with 21 points each, with Cosby hitting five three-pointers, and Gene Teague had 17 points and nine rebounds. 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. Forward Brandon Mobley played just 20 minutes because of foul trouble.
The Irish shot 56.5 percent for the game.
“I thought our offensive efficiency was off the charts and was the key, and we defended the arc enough where they couldn’t hurt us too bad,” Brey said.
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.