In their third appearance in the Maui Invitational and first since 2008, Notre Dame defeated Chaminade 83-56 in the first round of the tournament at the Lahaina Civic Center.
Matt Farrell set the tone for the Irish in the first half as the senior tallied 16 of his career-high 27 points in the first half. The Notre Dame offense had a hard time finding their rhythm early, but Farrell provided the energy needed to build an early lead.
As Chaminade adjusted in the second half to take away Farrell, Bonzie Colson saw his opportunities open up. Colson finished the game with 23 points and eight rebounds.
The Silverswords hit a pair of fluky three-point shots to close the first half and open up the second half to cut the lead to six, but that would be as close as the upset-minded squad would get. After the Silverswords hung with the Irish for the first 23 minutes of the game, Notre Dame put on the afterburners to remove any doubt in the second half.
Although the Irish eventually pulled away, the game was still close enough where Mike Brey didn’t feel comfortable pulling the starters until under five minutes. Stamina will be key moving forward in as ND will play three games in three days.
Notre Dame will play the winner of LSU/Michigan tomorrow, while Chaminade will face the loser.
– Although T.J. Gibbs was not hitting his outside shots, the sophomore had a career-high three steals and gave Farrell a much-needed breather as he handled the point.
– With Gibbs off, D.J. Harvey may be ND’s No. 3 option on the offensive end.
– Although just a freshman, Harvey is efficient and already carries himself like an upper classman. He finished with 12 points on 4-5 shooting in just 19 minutes of action.
– Brey rarely shows this much faith in a freshman early in the season, which is a testament to Harvey’s skill and his understanding of the game.
– Another bright spot for the Irish Monday was John Mooney. The sophomore had just three points, but gathered four rebounds and was incredibly active on the defensive end. Mooney and Elijah Burns provide the Irish with effective front court depth, which has been a rarity for ND.
– Until a late three, Rex Pflueger was 0-6 from the field. He is clearly a stalwart defensively and a valuable cog on this team, but as smooth as Harvey appears, the junior from California seems just as rushed. His drives are often erratic and his jumper has been way off early. It’s only November and there is no reason to panic, but its critical for Pflueger to become an offensive weapon as the season matures.
– All that being said Pflueger finished the game with a +/- of +24 (h/t Noie).
– The Irish will clearly take a step up in competition over the next two days, but don’t underestimate Chaminade. This is their one shining moment and they always play their best over these three days. Not gonna lie, it didn’t give me great vibes when ESPN put up the graphic that this was the 35th anniversary of Chaminade upsetting No. 1 Virginia and Ralph Sampson.
– Notre Dame was uncharacteristically sloppy with the ball in the first half as the Irish committed seven turnovers, which kept the Silverswords within striking distance. ND cleaned that up in the second half as they tallied just three turnovers for the rest of the game.
– Brey wearing shorts on the sideline was a great touch, but need him to take it all the way and wear flip flops tomorrow.
– I’m a bigger fan of Dan Dakich than most, but he is a definite downgrade from Bill Walton who had worked the same slot the last few years. Walton on Maui spewing gibberish was must-watch television.
– The Irish last played Michigan in the 2016 NCAA Tournament when the Irish downed the Wolverines in the first round. ND last played LSU in 1990 when the Tigers had a little guy named Shaquille O’Neal at center.