Rush the Court will be providing wall-to-wall coverage of each of the NCAA Tournament from each of the 13 sites this year. Follow our NCAA Tourney specific Twitter accounts at @RTCeastregion, @RTCMWregion,@RTCsouthregion and @RTCwestregion.
Three Key Takeaways.
- Turnovers made the difference. Notre Dame was a tad inconsistent offensively today but managed to gut out a victory nonetheless. The most obvious factor? The Irish – despite ranking 274th nationally in defensive turnover percentage – forced 16 Northeastern miscues, including several big steals late in the game. Each time the Huskies would surge, a turnover would temper their momentum and keep Notre Dame ahead. And when Bill Coen’s group climbed back to within one possession with a final shot to win, Jerian Grant ripped the ball from Northeastern forward Quincy Ford to seal the four-point triumph.
- Notre Dame needs some rebounding. Look, Notre Dame is never going to dominate teams on the glass – it ranked near the bottom of the ACC in offensive and defensive rebounding percentage this season – but the Irish still need to be better on the boards than they were today. Northeastern’s comeback was keyed by big offensive rebounds (13 on the game), and the Huskies rarely gave Notre Dame second-chance opportunities. As the Irish advance through the NCAA Tournament – potentially facing imposing frontcourts like Texas and Kentucky along the way – they need to get some production on the glass, especially when opponents take away the three-point line like Northeastern did today.
- What a way to start. “We gave a show in the first game of the tournament… just like CBS wanted,” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said afterwards. And what a show it was. Northeastern piqued everyone’s interest early, faded midway through the second half, then fought back to pull within one possession in the game’s closing moments. The NCAA Tournament wasted no time in giving us the one thing it never virtually never fails to provide: drama.
Star of the Game: Zach Auguste (25 points, six rebounds). After being hit with two early fouls, Auguste shredded Northeastern underneath for the better part of 30 minutes. The Huskies were unable to stay in front of the Irish’s penetrating guards and the big man – always in great position – was the beneficiary, scoring 17 of his 25 points in the second half and icing the game with two free throws at the end. His presence will be crucial as Mike Brey’s club runs into bigger and more athletic opponents moving forward.