Notre Dame grabs second straight conference victory at Miami
CORAL GABLES, Fla. — Looking for yet another way to send a message to a team trying to get in gear, Notre Dame coach Mike Brey found a unique button to push heading into Sunday’s game at Miami (Fla.).
Brey did more than shuffle his starting lineup. He absolutely shredded it and started over.
Prentiss Hubb scored 19 points with nine assists and Nate Laszewski added 16 points and 10 rebounds as Notre Dame beat Miami, 73-59, at Watsco Center. It marked the first since February 2020 that Notre Dame won consecutive Atlantic Coast Conference contests.
"It's just a big step for us," Hubb said of the win.
"It means the world to us," said power forward Juwan Durham.
To open, out went the team’s three leading scorers — Laszewski, Hubb and Dane Goodwin, along with Durham. The only semi-holdover was junior guard/captain Cormac Ryan. It was the first time Laszewski and Hubb hadn’t started this season.
Brey said Hubb was (ticked) off at not starting, but channeled that disappointment into determination. His fellow starters followed that lead.
"I'm proud of how they handled it," Brey said.
Notre Dame finished with 63 bench points, a record under Brey and likely, a school record.
"I've never seen anything like that," Brey said.
In their places went two freshmen — Miami native Tony Sanders Jr., and Matt Zona, with walk-on Elijah Morgan. It was the first career starts for all three. Graduate student Nik Djogo rounded out the first five. The freshmen and the walk-on all played the first four minutes, then didn’t return for the rest of the game.
Those five in the starting lineup entered Sunday’s game averaging a combined 16.4 points. The usual four starters on the bench average 60.6.
Notre Dame (5-8; 2-5 ACC) never trailed the final 26-plus minutes and led by as many as 19.
Word from South Florida was that Brey would address the situation after the game. But the move was not injury or coronavirus protocol related.
It’s a move that Brey’s never made in his 20-plus seasons at Notre Dame. The closest he ever came was in 2008 after the Irish lost seven consecutive games, capped by a 26-point loss at UCLA. Leaving Pauley Pavilion that day, Brey barked about how every spot in the rotation was going up for grabs, including the starters. He made very little changes before Notre Dame returned home and beat then-No. 5 Louisville by 23.
The ACC Network reported just after tip that Brey was not happy with his starters during Saturday’s practice. Notre Dame’s new-look lineup missed its first six shots before finally getting a Djogo 3-pointer to fall.
The usual starters were back on the floor out of the first media timeout at the 15:57 mark. At that point, the Irish trailed 6-3. They eventually got going in the right direction enough to lead by eight at the break. The first half featured two ties and five lead changes. Less than five minutes into the second half, a pair of Hubb 3s allowed Notre Dame to stretch its lead to 14.
By the 13:33 mark of the first half, every available player for the Irish had played.
Durham capped an 8-0 run with a lob dunk off a pass from Trey Wertz to push the Irish up eight late in the first half. A Hubb corner 3 stretched the Irish advantage to a half-high nine, 27-18.
Miami (6-8; 2-7) labored to make many shots in the first half, where it finished with 22 points for the second straight game.
The Irish were 0-3 on the road in league play prior to Sunday. Notre Dame was 4-6 away from home in league play last season. Notre Dame last won consecutive league games last February when it beat Miami (Fla.) and Boston College. The victory over B.C. on Feb. 26, 2020 was the last time the Irish won a league road game.
Notre Dame was in 13th place in the 15-team ACC at tip-off.
Miami again was without its leading scorer, guard Chris Lykes. A high school teammate of Hubb in Washington, Lykes has been limited to two games because of a lingering ankle injury. The Hurricanes had seven available scholarship players.
—Tribune staff writer Tom Noie contributed to this report
• NOTRE DAME 73, MIAMI (Fla.) 59
At Coral Gables, Fla.
NOTRE DAME (5-8): Zona 0-3 0-0 0, Djogo 2-3 0-0 5, Morgan 0-1 0-0 0, Ryan 1-3 2-2 5, Sanders 0-1 0-0 0, Hubb 7-12 0-1 19, Laszewski 7-10 1-2 16, Goodwin 3-4 0-0 7, Wertz 2-5 0-0 5, Durham 6-10 4-6 16. Totals 28-52 7-11 73.
MIAMI (6-8): Cross 0-5 0-0 0, Brooks 3-5 0-0 6, McGusty 8-15 2-2 20, Olaniyi 4-10 2-2 10, Wong 6-17 3-4 16, Gak 3-6 0-0 6, Beverly 0-3 0-0 0, Herenton 0-1 1-2 1. Totals 24-62 8-10 59.
Halftime_Notre Dame 30-22. 3-Point Goals_Notre Dame 10-18 (Hubb 5-7, Goodwin 1-1, Djogo 1-2, Laszewski 1-2, Wertz 1-2, Ryan 1-3, Morgan 0-1), Miami 3-22 (McGusty 2-5, Wong 1-8, Beverly 0-1, Herenton 0-1, Olaniyi 0-3, Cross 0-4). Rebounds_Notre Dame 33 (Laszewski 10), Miami 25 (Olaniyi, Gak 5). Assists_Notre Dame 19 (Hubb 9), Miami 9 (McGusty, Wong 3). Total Fouls_Notre Dame 8, Miami 13.