SOUTH BEND – Sophomore reserve Nate Laszewski is on a roll and so is Notre Dame, which had six players in double figures in winning for the sixth straight time,91-66 over Fairleigh Dickinson on Tuesday.
“I thought we brought a lot of juice,” said the 6-foot-10 Laszewski, who scored a team-high 16 points and had three blocked shots five days after knocking down a 3-pointer at the end of regulation that allowed coach Mike Brey's Fighting Irish to eventually beat Toledo in overtime, 64-62.
Led by Laszewski and fellow sophomore Dane Goodwin, who had 15 points, Notre Dame's bench finished with a 38-19 edge over the Knights, who lost their fifth straight.
“Both those guys are gifted guys,” Brey said. “Last year it was hard to get them to be aggressive offensively. They were too nice. They weren't physically or mentally ready. I think they are now. They are great weapons.”
John Mooney had his fourth double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds for the Irish, whose only loss is their 76-65 Atlantic Coast Conference opener Nov. 6 at No. 6 North Carolina. Juwan Durham had 12 points, 11 rebounds and four blocked shots, T.J. Gibbs had 11 points and Rex Pflueger 10 for the Irish.
Pflueger, playing his fifth season after missing much of last season following knee surgery, likes what the bench is providing Notre Dame. The Irish shot 51% from the field, outrebounded FDU 44-33 and had 24 assists on their 32 baskets, 12 of which came from 3-point range.
“I'm so proud of them,” said Pflueger of Laszewski and Goodwin. “The steps they have made since last year is incredible. You can see it in their eyes and their bodies. They've really matured.”
Brey also likes what Mooney and Durham are providing. “To go double-double with your starting frontline guys is really powerful,” Brey said, who are roommates. “They look at each other as a tag-team group.”
Coach Greg Herenda's Knights (1-5) lost their fifth straight despite a game-high 17 points from Xzavier Malone-Key.
Kaleb Bishop had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Notre Dame jumped out to a 13-0 lead hitting five of its first seven shots before Herenda called a timeout. The Knights started 0 for 18 from the floor.
The Irish continued to grow the lead to 21-2 before FDU's Rush drove the lane with 10:03 left in the half to stop the field-goal drought for the Knights, who finished shooting 37 percent (24 of 64).
Despite going 2:54 without a point and 5:42 without a basket, the Irish led 42-30 at halftime after the Knights closed the half on a 17-12 run over the final 4:41. Notre Dame took a 20-point lead on Durham's free throw with 11:51 to go in the game and cruised from there and led at one point by 27 points.
Note: The Irish, who entered the game shooting 40.3% from the field (298th among the 351 Division I teams), made 52% (15 of 29) in the first half, including 54% from the 3-point line, where they were 29% (288th) coming in. Notre Dame finished 12 of 25 from 3-point land (48%).