News From Terre Haute, Indiana

College

December 14, 2013

Notre Dame never trails in topping Hoosiers in Crossroads Classic

INDIANAPOLIS — Notre Dame’s experience trumped Indiana’s athleticism in the Crossroads Classic, sending the Hoosiers to a second straight loss in the Indianapolis event.

The Irish never trailed in defeating the Hoosiers 79-72.

How big was this win for the Irish (8-3)?

“It’s huge [to beat IU here],” Notre Dame junior swingman Pat Connaughton said. “It’s predominantly IU, if not 99 percent IU [in the crowd]. So to play them here and to come out with a victory, it’s huge for this program, because Indiana over the past has dominated the state, now we’ve been able to change that.”

Considering Notre Dame was coming off a 73-69 loss at home to North Dakota State, avoiding consecutive losses was huge for the program as well.

“I’m really proud of my team because they were reeling a little bit after Wednesday,” Irish coach Mike Brey said. “But we do have an experienced nucleus that has played together and won together before in these atmospheres.”

The Hoosiers (8-3) don’t, at least not this season.

“It was just a little too bright in there today for our young guys,” Indiana coach Tom Crean said.

Senior Will Sheehey did his best to keep the Hoosiers in the game, scoring 16 of his team-high 22 points in the first half. He tied his career-high for points.

But every time the Hoosiers cut into the Irish lead, Notre Dame’s veterans answered.

“These guys just have to get more comfortable playing the big stages,” Sheehey said.

Brey was pleased that his team was able to answer IU’s runs with defensive stands.

“That’s been a problem for us this year,” he said.

Even unable to grab the lead, IU still had a chance late in the game. Yogi Ferrell hit a 3-pointer with 2:47 to play to pull the Hoosiers within 71-69.

But after stealing the ball from Garrick Sherman on Notre Dame’s next possession, Ferrell was blocked at the other end, by Sherman, and Eric Atkins scored on a layup to give the Irish a four-point lead. Ferrell and Sheehey missed IU’s next three shots from the field and the Irish hit 4-of-6 free throws to clinch the victory.

The Hoosiers never led, the first time that’s happened since a 68-56 loss at Michigan on Feb. 1, 2012.

“I think our struggle right now is learning who we are versus who we want to be,” Crean said. “We’re not a team that’s going to be really successful thinking we’re going to shoot a lot of jump shots. We’ve got to get into the lane.

“ ... We made a bunch of runs, we just could never get over the hump.”

Ferrell scored 13 and Evan Gordon had 11 points for the Hoosiers, who fell to 1-2 in the Crossroads Classic and are 1-3 away from Assembly Hall this season.

Jerian Grant led the Irish with 23 points, including 11-of-11 from the free-throw line. Garrick Sherman scored 16 and Connaughton had 14 points.

Before the game, Crean asked the crowd at Bankers Life Fieldhouse to applaud former Indiana State coach Royce Waltman, who was broadcasting his last game as color analyst on IU's radio network. He's been battling cancer.

 

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