Blue Hensí Comeback Falls Just Short as Notre Dame Holds Off Delaware, 80-75, in BlackRock Gotham Classic
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Notre Dame All-ACC guard Jerian Grant knocked down two off-balance jumpers late as the Fighting Irish held off the University of Delaware men’s basketball team, 80-75, Saturday afternoon in a BlackRock Gotham Classic contest at Purcell Pavilion.
The Irish, who improved to 6-2 on the season, led by as many as 12 points in the second half, before Delaware battled back and closed within 70-69 on a Jarvis Threatt layup with 2:09 to play.
But Grant, a preseason All-ACC and Wooden Award Watch List selection, buried a contested 19-foot jumper with 1:34 to play to make it a three-point game. Following a turnover by Threatt, Grant hit another tough jumper from virtually the same spot with 59 seconds to go, putting Notre Dame up five. Kyle Anderson then missed a corner jumper on Delaware’s ensuing possession, and the Blue Hens would not threaten from there.
Delaware, which entered the contest having won three straight games and five of six, dropped to 5-4 on the season. UD was playing its first game against Irish head coach Mike Brey, who guided the Blue Hens to 99 victories and a pair of NCAA tournament berths during his tenure in Newark from 1995-2000.
Threatt finished with 23 points, all but four in the second half, and dished out a career-high 10 assists while posting his first double-double of the season. Anderson (below) and Davon Usher (left) added 19 points apiece and combined for eight three-pointers for Delaware, while Carl Baptiste chipped in seven points, eight rebounds and four blocks.
Grant paced Notre Dame with 25 points and went 10 of 16 from the field, while Pat Connaughton chipped in 21 points and a season-best 11 boards. Garrick Sherman was the third Irish player in double figures with 19 points, while Eric Atkins handed out six assists.
“The biggest key today was that we had too many loose possessions, due to some poor shot selection and turnovers,” said eighth-year Blue Hen head coach Monté Ross. “We had a tough stretch at the end of the first half that allowed them to get some separation, and then Grant hit two unbelievable shots that we defended really well.”
After Baptiste opened the scoring with a jump hook, Notre Dame answered with 12 consecutive points to take an early 12-2 lead four and a half minutes into the contest. Baptiste ended the spurt with a three-point play, before a three-point barrage by Usher and Anderson gave Delaware the lead. Usher hit two straight from deep, and after Anderson connected on his next two long range shots, Usher added a deep trey from the top of the key to put the Blue Hens in front 24-22 at the 8:45 mark.
A pair of Threatt free throws put Delaware up 34-29 but the Blue Hens went the final six minutes of the half without a field goal, as Notre Dame used a 13-0 run to regain the advantage. Grant drilled a three-pointer before Connaughton added a pair from deep, putting the Irish in front by eight points. Usher then stopped the run by hitting a free throw with 14.2 seconds left, sending the Blue Hens to the locker room trailing 42-35.
The Irish scored the first two buckets of the second half to go back up double figures, and the lead remained between eight and 12 points for the next nine minutes. But Devonne Pinkard connected on two free throws to bring Delaware within six, while Anderson hit another three to make it a 68-64 game with 7:05 remaining.
Delaware continued to rally, as Usher scored inside off a miss to cut the Irish lead to 70-67 with 3:51 left. Threatt then converted a layup to make it a one-point game, before Grant drained his two jumpers to give the Irish some breathing room.
• UD stretch of seven straight games of scoring at least 80 points was snapped
• Delaware fell to 1-2 against ACC opponents since the start of last season
• Notre Dame entered the game ranked second in Division I with 20.8 assists per game, but was held to 13 today
• The Irish improved to 58-4 in its last 62 home games
• Notre Dame held a 37-27 rebounding advantage
• Delaware went 5-2 during the seven-game suspension of leading scorer Devon Saddler
• Delaware takes a week off for final exams before heading to North Dakota State on Dec. 16