SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP)—Notre Dame didn’t let the suspension of its starting point guard become a distraction Saturday.
Russell Carter scored 23 points to lead the 19th-ranked Fighting Irish to a 95-66 victory over Stony Brook.
“We just played,” Carter said. “We have players to fill the void when any of our players go down.”
In their final nonconference game of the season, the Fighting Irish (12-1) won their 11th straight, their longest winning streak since 1986-87. The Irish open Big East play against Louisville on Wednesday.
Sophomore guard Kyle McAlarney has been suspended indefinitely from the team after his early Friday morning arrest for marijuana possession.
“I think we handled it about as well as can be expected,” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said of McAlarney’s absence.
McAlarney, who was fifth on the team in scoring with a 10.3 average, was replaced in the starting lineup by freshman Tory Jackson, who played 29 minutes, nearly twice his average.
Despite McAlarney’s absence, Notre Dame still exceeded its 87.1 points per game average, which was sixth-best in the nation entering the game.
“Our team’s almost like interchangeable parts at this point,” said Colin Falls, who finished with 17 points for the Irish. “We’ve got guys who can score at all positions.”
Mitchell Beauford and Mike Popoko both had 14 points for Stony Brook (5-7), which was playing its first game since a win over Fairleigh Dickinson on Dec. 16, one that gave the Seawolves more victories than all last season when they went 4-24.
After Stony Brook cut Notre Dame’s lead to 11 points three minutes into the second half, the Irish went on a 15-1 run, holding the Seawolves without a field goal for over 6 minutes. Carter scored 14 of Notre Dame’s first 18 points and the Irish used a 3-point barrage to overcome some shaky ballhandling early.
The Irish committed eight turnovers in the first six minutes, but they also hit seven of their first nine 3-point attempts in taking a 15-point halftime lead.
“We weren’t as good, and we weren’t going to be,” Brey said. “After getting our legs in the first seven minutes, I thought we started to feel it, and in the second half, we got into a little better rhythm.”
Irish forward Rob Kurz recorded his sixth double-double of the season, finishing with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
Notre Dame’s lead reached 84-54 on a 7-0 run that started with Carter’s seventh 3-pointer of the game, his assist to Kurz for a dunk and two free throws by Zach Hillesland with 4:18 to play.
“This team really shares the ball,” Stony Brook coach Steve Pikiell said of the Irish. “They spread the floor out and make it very difficult for you to defend.”