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Saturday, March 2, 2024
The Observer

Men's Basketball: Cooley keys Irish exhibition victory

After an easy 59-point win in their exhibition opener, the No. 22 Irish grinded out a 70-56 win in their preseason finale against Cardinal Stritch at Purcell Pavilion.

Senior forward Jack Cooley led Notre Dame with 15 points and 10 rebounds while freshman forward Cameron Biedscheid added 11 points off the bench.

Senior forward Jeremy D'Amico paced Cardinal Stritch with 26 points on 9-of-9 shooting, including a perfect 8-for-8 from behind the arc. D'Amico averaged 3.5 points last year and shot 17 percent from 3-point range.

"The last time somebody shot like was [former Irish guard Kyle] McAlarney against Syracuse in here," Irish coach Mike Brey said. "The guy was rolling. Whatever they did with him, he's a shooter, baby. He was great. He made tough ones and he got loose on some stuff too."

In the first half, the Wolves shot 59 percent from the field and 54 percent from the 3-point line on their way to a 34-34 game at halftime.

"I think we were a little sleepy at halftime," Cooley said. "Nothing was really clicking right. We knew we needed to go in at halftime and reset. Games like that are going to happen during the season so we have to learn to play through that and recover and have a good second half."

In the second half, the Irish rebounded to hold Cardinal Stritch to 22 points and 35 percent shooting.

"At halftime, we just talked about cranking it up on defense," Cooley said. "Just really tightening it up and not letting them have as many open shots."

Notre Dame opened the second half on an 8-0 run highlighted by 3-pointers from junior guards Eric Atkins and Jerian Grant.

"I think that was good for us," Atkins said. "We had to deal with a little bit of controversy because we didn't have to deal with that at all in the first game, being up by 20 or 30 points."

The Irish pushed their lead to 16 points with an 11-0 run over four minutes. Biedscheid capped the run with a flying alley-oop from Atkins.

"Cam really gave us a great lift and I was so glad to see him be part of that in the second half," Brey said.

Biedscheid was part of an Irish bench that contributed 20 points, nearly a third of Notre Dame's points.

"That's a pretty good thing when your bench comes in and scores almost a third of your points," Cooley said. "That's pretty big.

"We're a deep team. We're deeper than we've ever been since I've been here," Cooley said. "That's really huge, especially in the Big East, where we can just have all those people when you get ground down and sometimes you get in foul trouble, to have subs to come in that can keep playing as hard as the starters, it's huge."

Biedscheid came in a highly-touted recruit and the Missouri Gatorade Player of the Year last year. Brey said Biedscheid was further along than he expected him to be.

"What I've learned is that [senior center Garrick Sherman] and Cameron have joined [the rotation] fairly smoothly," Brey said. "Cameron has joined it smoother than I thought he would by this time. I thought it would be more of a work in progress."

Freshman forward Zach Auguste played three minutes for the Irish in his return from an ankle injury.

"I would have loved to get Zach Auguste some more minutes but that didn't present itself," Brey said. "He's only been back in practice for three days. He needs a good week of practice before we get going next week."

Freshman guard Austin Burgett bruised his ankle during practice and Brey said he expects him back soon.

The Irish will open their season against Evansville on Saturday at the Purcell Pavilion.


Contact Matthew DeFranks at