Eric Atkins’ three-point shot at the end of the first half stole the momentum from St. John’s and led to a runaway victory for Notre Dame, but the otherwise happy Senior Night for Notre Dame took a nasty turn with 1:46 left.
The game began sloppy for both teams, opening the game with a combined 3-14 from the floor and committing a handful of turnovers. St. John’s length and athleticism on defense disrupted Notre Dame’s flow on offense in the first half, allowing the Red Storm to capitalize on a number of blocks with easy fast break points. However, just when it seemed St. John’s was going to end the half on an 8-0, Eric Atkins hit a three with 10 seconds to go in the half ending a nearly 5 minute scoring drought for Notre Dame and cutting the St. John’s lead to 4 at 26-22.
The Fighting Irish kept the momentum from that point on, opening the second half with a 10-4 run sparked by stellar efforts by both Eric Atkins and Jerian Grant. Atkins ended the night with 18 points shooting 4-6 from three and adding 7 assists.
Jerian Grant led all scorers with 21 points shooting 5-6 from three and contributing 8 assists. Jack Cooley chipped in a double-double with 12 points and 14 rebounds in what was the Notre Dame seniors’ last home game. St. John’s only scored 14 points in the second half and shot an abysmal 17-56 from the floor and 1-13 from three-point territory.
Unfortunately, what should have been a happy night for Notre Dame may not be remembered for the Irish’s dominating second half effort, but the ugly fight that broke out with 1:46 left. Sir Dominic Pointer of St. John’s got tangled up with Notre Dame’s Cameron Biedscheid in an altercation that led to punches being thrown.
Both players were ejected for their roles in the fight and will automatically be suspended for their next game. This is worth noting for Notre Dame as they face Louisville on March 9th and would benefit from Biedscheid’s ability to stretch the floor with his outside shooting. Notre Dame will look to overcome Biedscheid’s absence as they march towards the Big East Tournament and vie for a strong seed in the field of 68 later this month.