A late second-half run pulled Howard within striking distance before Notre Dame held on for a 71-68 win in the MLK Classic.
Nate Laszewski turned in a big performance for the Irish, posting his third double-double of the season with 17 points and 13 rebounds. Dane Goodwin continued his strong season with a 17-point effort for the Irish to tie for the team lead in scoring on the afternoon.
Blake Wesley also had a solid day, scoring 13 points to set the Notre Dame program record for most double-digit scoring performances from a true freshman in a season with 14, passing Irish legend Troy Murphy.
Notre Dame was slow out of the gate shooting the ball but settled in and built an eight-point lead at 25-17 with just under seven minutes to play in the first half.
The Bison managed to close the half strong, trimming the Irish lead to just one at 31-30 at the half after a Howard player hit a shot right at the buzzer to make it a one-point contest.
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The Irish offense was very balanced in the opening 20 minutes of play, as Wesley and Laszewski each had seven points while Goodwin and Atkinson added six apiece.
The hosts scored the first six points out of the halftime break to go on top 36-31 before the Irish battled back with a 14-6 spurt to regain the lead at 45-42 with 13 minutes left in regulation and force a Howard timeout. Goodwin was instrumental in the stretch scoring seven straight for the Irish.
Notre Dame found its groove on both ends of the floor over the next six minutes of action, as the Irish lead grew to 12 at 58-46, their largest of the day.
However, the advantage was short lived for the Irish, as Howard answered with a quick 8-0 run in a span of 75 seconds to cut the lead to four at 58-54 with six minutes left in the contest.
A layup from Wesley pushed the Irish lead back up to double digits at 67-56 with just under three minutes to play and it looked like the Irish would cruise to a victory but Howard had other ideas. The visitors rallied back and reeled off 10 straight points over the next two minutes to make it a one point game at 67-66 with 56 seconds left.
The two sides traded scores and then Prentiss Hubb beat his defender and finished at the rim to give the Irish a 71-68 lead with 12 seconds remaining on the clock. Howard had a look to send the game to overtime but the shot didn’t fall, giving Notre Dame the victory.
Courtesy: Notre Dame Athletics