SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — With Notre Dame struggling to put pesky Marshall away, coach Mike Brey began having flashbacks to last season when the Fighting Irish were stunned at home by Radford.
“Like, ‘will we be mentally enough to figure out how to get over the hump?’ I thought our defensive stuff, we had some really key stops and got some loose balls,” Brey said.
The Irish (3-1) also got a career-high 28 points from John Mooney, who added 16 rebounds as Notre Dame opened a 17-point lead early, but Marshall closed to three points twice midway through the second half before falling 74-64 Friday night in the Men Against Breast Cancer Invitational.
Brey said the Irish needed the big performance by Mooney, who posted his third straight double-double.
“He’s unbelievable,” Brey said. “We’re riding him so hard.”
Mooney said the Irish might have eased up a little after opening the 17-point lead.
“That’s on me, staying on the guys more and staying on the gas pedal,” Mooney said. “But it’s a game of runs. They start hitting shots and when you miss a couple, and they come down and make a couple, that’s the way the game goes sometimes.”
Mooney said being in a tight game may pay off for the Irish down the road.
T.J. Gibbs added 15 points for the Irish.
Dane Goodwin had 11 Taevion Kinsey led the Thundering Herd (1-2) with 16 points, 11 rebounds and five assists, Jarrod West scored 14 and Iran Bennett, making his first start, added 10.
Marshall coach Dan D’Antoni was pleased with his team’s resilience.
“Defense, I thought we were real good, especially after we got past that first seven minutes. I think we outscored them after the first seven or eight minutes by seven. So we just have to keep going,” he said.
Brey said he wasn’t expecting an easy game against the Thundering Herd.
“I love that we figured out a way to escape. That’s how we’re going to have to play. We guarded good enough to get out of there.”
D’Antoni said he doesn’t believe in moral victories, but clearly was pleased with his team’s play.
“For our young team — and I wouldn’t say this for last year – but for our young team, its’s a good win, I mean a good way of just not getting knocked off the floor,” he said. “We came back and found our composure.”
Marshall: The Thundering Herd bounced back from a blowout loss to Toledo to give the Irish a tough game.
Notre Dame: The Irish were hot and cold shooting early but still earned their third straight victory at home after opening the season with a 76-65 loss at Atlantic Coast Conference foe North Carolina.
The Irish entered the game making 47% of their shots but were held to 31.6% shooting, including 28% shooting in the second half.
“We had some great looks, but we couldn’t make enough of them,” Brey said. “There’s going to be nights you’re going to have hard times scoring.”
It was the first meeting between Marshall and Notre Dame since a 27-9 victory by the Irish at Marshall during an eight-game road trip in eight days during the 1912-1913 season. The Irish finished the road trip 6-2.
Marshall: Hosts Charleston on Tuesday.
Notre Dame: Hosts Presbyterian on Monday.
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