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Notre Dame vs UMass Minutemen Final: Notre Dame Outguns UMass Enroute To 81-68 Win

UMass' 18 turnovers prove too much to overcome.

Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

What was a competitive back and forth matchup in the first half quickly changed gears in the second. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish began the second half on a 9-2 run that would give them a 40-30 lead which the Minutemen would never get close too. That run was brought to them by Demetrius Jackson who had six of those nine points. For the game he was one of the key players for the Irish, scoring 16 points on 5-6 shooting and led the team with five steals.

UMass was looking good in the first half. Maxie Esho hit a layup with 8:35 left in the first half to give the Massachusetts Minutemen a 23-13 lead. Notre Dame would go on a 18-5 to close out the half.

Jerian Grant was the player of the game finishing with a game high in both points and assists with 24 and eight. He also added 10-13 from the field and really got the better of Derrick Gordon.

Once Notre Dame got their second half lead to double digits UMass could do no better than to trade baskets. Cady Lalanne was frustrated by the lack of offensive touches. This was his first game without a double-double, recording 16 points and six rebounds. This was also his first game without a block.

Pat Connaughton, the Irish's senior captain, was another thorn in the Minutemen's side. Playing in front of 200 friends and family members he put his shooting on display scoring 18 points, including four threes. Every time UMass seemed poised to make a run Connaughton was there with a three.

Trey Davis was outplayed today by his underling Donte Clark. Clark was very efficient leading the bench with 10 points. He was 2-3 from downtown and hit all four of this free throws. Davis on the other hand fell one point shy of Clark while shooting 4-11 from the field. He also had an awful 3:1 turnover to assist ratio. The sixth man, Jabarie Hinds, did not fair much better than Davis scoring just three points and finishing with the same ratio as Davis.

DG was the only other guard to play well. He led the team in points with 18 but did have four turnovers. He wasn't able to shutdown Grant, somethiing he needed to do if UMass wanted to win but that will be a task that I'm sure no one in the country is capable of.

Notre Dame only committed one less turnover than UMass but shooting was the deciding factor. The Irish continued their fine shooting performances with 58.5 percent from the field and added in 9-19 from deep. UMass on the other hand shot just 42.9 percent from the field and 6-17 from three. UMass also got the line 29 times but only converted 20 of those chances.

Maxie Esho finished just shy of double figures with nine points and nine rebounds. He was UMass' best rim protecter with two rejections. Along with Gordon he provided a much needed energy for UMass but it wasn't enough.

The Irish also out-rebounded UMass 31-28, but Notre Dame certainly had a lot more rebound opportunities than the Minutemen did. The most concerning thing about this game was UMass' transition defense and the lack of assists. Notre Dame was able to beat UMass up the floor way too many time for a UMass team that prides themselves on being able to run the floor and play fast. Also, UMass only had FOUR ASSISTS AS A TEAM. They will need to play better team offense in the front court if they want to beat the Florida State Seminoles.

Speaking of the 'Noles, UMass will take them on tomorrow at noon. You can watch the game on ESPN3.