SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — With his team barely shooting 40 percent this season, Mike Brey was wondering when Notre Dame’s offense was going to find itself. He didn’t have to wait long against visiting Detroit Mercy on Tuesday night.
Reserve Dane Goodwin scored a career-high 27 points, T.J. Gibbs had 18 points and eight assists and John Mooney and Prentiss Hubb each had double-doubles as Notre Dame broke a two-game losing streak with a 110-71 victory over beleaguered Detroit Mercy.
“Maybe our offense woke up a little bit tonight,” Brey said after the Irish (7-3), coming off losses to Maryland and Boston College, had a program-tying 33 assists on their 41 baskets in reaching the century mark for the first time since a 100-74 victory over Jacksonville last season.
“When you can get 33 assists, I don’t care who you are playing – that’s pretty powerful,” Brey said after Prentiss Hubb had a career-high 11 assists to go with 13 points.
Mooney, who entered the game leading the nation in rebounding with 13.5 per game, managed 11 to go with his 15 points for his sixth double-double of the year. Juwan Durham had 16 points and nine rebounds as the Irish out-boarded the Titans 40-28.
Goodwin hit 9 of 11 shots and reserve Nate Laszewski added 14 points for the Irish, who outscored the Titans 45-28 in bench points.
Brey said he talked with Goodwin and Laszewski on Monday to get a feel for what he could do to get more consistency from them off the bench.
“Dane was sitting forward in his chair,” Brey said. “He’s a very intense guy. He said, ‘You need to get on me more.’”
So Brey did and Goodwin said he came out with a different mindset that was lacking in a 72-51 loss at then No. 3 Maryland and a 73-72 Atlantic Coast Conference home loss to Boston College last Saturday.
“I don’t know if I had that mentality the last two games,” said Goodwin, who had seven rebounds and four assists in 28 minutes of play. “Tonight, I was just doing what I could to help the team.”
Thanks to the unselfishness, the Irish shot a torrid 59% in each half and finished 51% (20 of 39) from 3-point land. Detroit Mercy, meanwhile, shot 42% from the floor (28 of 66).
Mike Davis’ Titans fell to 1-8 with their fifth straight defeat despite 27 points from sophomore son Antoine Davis on 12-of-21 shooting. Brad Calipari had 12 points and Justin Miller and Willy Isiani each added 11 for Detroit Mercy.
“You’re just hoping you’re not the team that they start making shots against,” Mike Davis said. “Thirty-three assists? That’s great team ball.”
Goodwin had 16 points on 6-of-7 shooting in 14 minutes as the Irish had their most productive first half of the season to grab a 49-33 lead. The lead eventually grew to 44 points in the second half.
Detroit Mercy: Coach Davis used 11 players in the first half, but the other 10 did little to help the coach’s son Antoine. They combined to shoot 29 percent, hitting 7 of 24 shots. They were just 9 of 30 from behind the 3-point line in the game.
“We just kind of laid down at one point,” Davis said. “We play these games to get better. We play them to get ready for our conference (Horizon League).”
Notre Dame: The Irish entered the game leading the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio at 1.62 and in the first half they were at 4.25 (17 assists to four turnovers). The Irish had 29 assists in a 107-53 victory over North Carolina A&T. Their 33 assists came with only 10 turnovers, the amount they had in the first half of their loss to Boston College.
“I told them at halftime they had 17 (assists) and I told them what the record was,” Brey said. “I said ‘Let’s try and get it.’ So, I kept count in the second half, which probably made them even more unselfish.”
A LITTLE SCARE
The Irish, who have eight players on scholarship after Rob Carmody underwent season-ending knee surgery, got a scare early in the second half when starting guard Rex Pflueger slipped going to the basket. He stayed on the floor for a few moments. Pflueger, a fifth-year grad student who suffered a season-ending left knee injury almost a year ago, left for the locker room. He did return to the bench and watched the rest of the game there.
“He strained it on a wet spot,” Brey said. “We felt don’t put him back in. He’s fine.”
Detroit Mercy: Titans begin three-game homestand Saturday against Toledo.
Notre Dame: Irish play final game before semester exams Saturday against visiting UCLA.