SOUTH BEND – After watching his team lose for the first time at home in November in his 14 years at the school, Notre Dame men’s basketball coach Mike Brey was disappointed.
If it was a team you didn’t feel was going to have a good year, said Brey after the 83-70 loss to Indiana State on Sunday. I’d be much more distraught.
The Sycamores improved to 2-1, handing the 21st-ranked Irish their first loss of the season after two wins.
We got beat by one heck of a basketball team today, Brey said. I think their veteran poise was better than our veteran poise. It was Indiana State imposing their will on us on both ends of the floor.
The Irish were led by Eric Atkins’ 18 points while Jerian Grant added 17 and Pat Connaughton chipped in 16. No other Irish player scored more than six points.
Five Sycamores scored in double figures, led by Justin Gant’s 17 points and Smith’s 15. Manny Arop chipped in 13 while Jake Odum and Devonte Brown each added 10.
It’s a tough one, Connaughton said. We’ve got to get better. I think that showed today. They’re a very good team. They beat us straight up and won both halves. This is something we’ve got to go back to and take with us for the rest of the season.
Notre Dame shot 37 percent (28 of 58) from the floor, and committed 16 turnovers, many of them in the first nine minutes of the game.
Those are just so deflating for a team that historically has taken pretty good care of the ball, Brey said. That’s just deflating.
The Sycamores built their halftime lead thanks to a 12-0 run. Smith scored eight points during the spurt, starting it with a dunk and adding in a 3-pointer.
The Irish surged ahead when Austin Burgett completed a three-point play with 15:07 remaining.
Indiana State, however, responded with an 18-3 run that put the Sycamores in control.
We don’t want to go back to Terre Haute with that loss, having that lead at halftime. What we went through Thursday, we knew we couldn’t go through again today, said Smith referencing a 96-95 loss to Belmont. It was a great opportunity being up I think 10 at halftime, to let it slip. We fought and dug deep just to get that lead back and played our game the rest of the way.
Brey felt his team’s decision-making on the offensive end during the deciding stretch could have been different.
Probably that shot selection in that seven minutes would be really interesting to watch tomorrow, Brey said. We were scattered and they were attention-to-detail, doing their thing.
Atkins wasn’t surprised that the Sycamores, who beat a pair of top-25 teams last season, answered ND’s run with a run of their own. Not really. It’s a game of runs, Atkins said.
We made our run and they made their run to take the lead right back. We didn’t respond after that. That’s what hurt us right there.