(CBS) On Friday night, the 6th seeded Notre Dame Fighting Irish opened up their NCAA Tournament bid with a first round win 68-63 over the 11th seeded Michigan Wolverines at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn, New York.
A back and forth affair between two evenly matched teams ended in victory for Coach Mike Brey’s team as their defense tightened up in the second half, and forward V.J. Beachem started draining three pointers.
The first half wasn’t kind to the Irish, as the Wolverines came out on fire from the field and in particular behind the three point line. Michigan dialed up seven threes in 14 attempts (50%) in the half and shot 48% overall. The Irish shot pretty well themselves at 59% and 40% respectively, but they turned the ball over 10 times in the half, which Michigan turned into easy points, leading to a 41-29 halftime lead.
However, the Irish answered back out of the break with a 19-7 run over the first nine minutes and change to tie the game at 48. From there the teams would continue to trade body blows until in the final minute with the Irish leading 66-63, the defense stiffened one final time forcing a contested Zak Irvin three that was off the mark. The Irish would hit their free throws to ice the game.
The star for the Irish was Beachem, who poured in 18 points on a perfect 7-7 shooting including 4-4 from beyond the arc. He was joined in double figures by forward Bryce Colson (12), guard Demetrious Jackson (11), and forward Zach Auguste (10). The Irish shot a ridiculous 58.1% (25-43) from the field and were 8-16 (50%) from deep.
For the Wolverines, it was a tale of two halves as in the second stanza they shot just 10-32 from the field and 3-12 from the three point arc following a red hot first half. Sophomore guard Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman led Michigan with 15 points and he was joined by point guard Derrick Walton Jr. who chipped in 10.
The win advances Notre Dame to the Round of 32 on Sunday where they will meet one of this year’s potential Cinderella teams in the 14th seeded Stephen F Austin Lumberjacks at 2:40 pm ET on CBS.