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Notre Dame rebounds from loss with 78-68 win over BYU

The SportsXchange

BROOKLYN, N.Y. -- The goal of Brigham Young and No. 20 Notre Dame in Saturday's consolation game of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic at Barclays Center was to salvage something positive from a weekend that wasn't going to work out the way anyone had planned.

The Irish accomplished that as guard Jerian Grant scored a season-high 19 points and Jack Cooley delivered another double-double with 19 points and 13 rebounds in a 78-68 victory.

Notre Dame had fallen into the consolation game after letting an eight-point lead slip away with four minutes to play the previous night against Saint Joseph's (Pa.).

"I'm very proud of our team," said Irish coach Mike Brey, who was none too pleased at the way his guys could not close out the previous night's game, an overtime loss. "We invested a lot of energy (Friday) and had our hearts broken and were moping around and rightfully so."

Down seven early in the second half Saturday, Notre Dame led by as many as 10 before closing it out from the free-throw line by hitting 10 of 12 the final 1:32

Tyler Haws led Brigham Young (2-2) with 21 points.

"It's a good learning experience for us," said Cougars coach Dave Rose. "Hopefully our guys will learn from this."

Notre Dame (3-1) delivered a 15-2 run, including 12 unanswered, that was kick-started by its zone defense. That flipped a seven-point deficit into a six-point lead late in the second half. The Irish were able to get four consecutive stops out of their 2-3 zone.

The zone isn't going to remind anyone of, say, Syracuse's look, but it was effective enough to keep the Irish from going home 0-2 on a weekend they believed they would be cutting down nets and celebrating a championship.

Instead, they'll take the third-place finish and find a way to get better.

Brigham Young led by as many as seven twice in the second half before being unable to decipher Notre Dame's zone defense, which produced three stops in a row and helped the Irish tie it at 49 with 11:56 remaining following a 3-pointer by Eric Atkins.

Grant struggled in the first three games to find his game, his shot and his place in the Irish attack after a solid debut as a sophomore. On Saturday, he delivered a season-high 19 points on 6-of-9 shooting. He also made all six of his free throws, had a team-high five assists and added three steals in 31 minutes.

"Just being poised really," said Grant, who shot 4-of-17 from the floor the previous night. "(Friday) when I missed shots, I got frustrated and it kind of messed my whole game up."

And after picking up those two early fouls, Grant never was whistled for another infraction.

"It's definitely tough," Grant said. "But the guys on the bench keep telling me to have confidence in myself and just stay ready."

Grant scored 17 points in the second half.

Notre Dame again had to figure it out Saturday - and had to do so while staring at a seven-point deficit early in the second half. The Irish offense seemed stuck in neutral, the defense just a bit indifferent when Brey decided to switch from man to zone.

"We had a hard time guarding them in man to man," Brey said.

Notre Dame put together four consecutive stops out of its zone, ran its way into some easy buckets with Grant at the controls and flipped the game with a 15-2 run that featured 12 consecutive points.

"This group really does play well together," Brey said. "I was afraid to play it most of the game. When you're down seven with 14 minutes to go, you're either going to play it and come back or you're going to play it and lose by 15.

"Doesn't matter. There was nothing to lose."

Instead, the Irish made it look easy on both ends while holding BYU scoreless for a 4:17 stretch.

"Notre Dame did what they do," Rose said. "They kind of locked us up there for a few minutes. That was the story of the game."

NOTES: Saturday's matchup in the consolation game was the first meeting between Brigham Young and Notre Dame since a 64-52 Irish victory on March 22, 2000. The win sent the Irish to the Final Four of the postseason National Invitation Tournament. ... Brigham Young lost 88-70 to Florida State in Friday's first semifinals. ... Notre Dame lost 79-70 in overtime to Saint Joseph's, a game that ended at 11:59 p.m. ... Notre Dame has lost its last two games against teams from the Atlantic 10. Xavier beat Notre Dame in the second round of the NCAA tournament last March. An A-10 team, George Washington, visits Notre Dame on Wednesday. ... Saturday's game was BYU's last east of the Mississippi River this year until possible postseason play. ... Next up at Barclays Center is the Legends Classic on Monday, when Indiana and Georgia meet before Georgetown plays UCLA.
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