Notre Dame Basketball: Irish answer the call, blow out Hampton in NIT

(Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
(Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /

Notre Dame basketball completed the 84-63 rout of Hampton in the first round of the NIT

The question coming into the game was whether or not the Notre Dame basketball team would still be motivated after the disappointment of missing the NCAA Tournament.

The answer – YES.

With only two days to prepare, Notre Dame scouted the Pirates well. The Irish understood they had the size advantage as they got to the paint early and often. Whether it was Bonzie Colson, Martinas Geben or one of the guards, Notre Dame knew what they needed to do.

Get into the paint early and you open up the deep shot. Head coach Mike Brey kept Hampton’s defense guessing as Temple Gibbs knocked down the first shot outside of the paint. The extended three-point line didn’t seem to bother him. Gibbs shot 75-percent from beyond the arc.

It didn’t matter if it was a full court pass to Colson or a pick-and-roll with Geben, Notre Dame showed they could dominate. At the end of the first quarter — yes you read that right — the Irish were shooting 50-percent from the field.

Let the big man roll

It became a “double-team Colson” game. The senior was up for the challenge. Whether it was using his vision for a great dish or racking up the rebounds, Colson made an impact. The big man finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds in his double-double performance.

But it wasn’t just a big man show. Gibbs proved that he’s the future of this Notre Dame team as he took control. The Irish didn’t make many threes in the first half, but when they did, they were from Gibbs. He was 3-of-3 from beyond the arc, sparking him to a 15-point first half.

Matt Farrell might not have had a great shooting night, but he was still in tune. A behind the back pass leading to a Geben slam and gave the senior his fifth assist of the night.

More from Notre Dame Men's Basketball

The Irish still have some fight

If you ever questioned what Notre Dame’s effort would be in this game, you would have been wrong. The Irish got out and ran the court. If there was a miss, it was followed by someone going after the rebound — even if that meant hitting the floor. The Iris won the hustle battle.

A steal by Gibbs resulting in a layup on the other side of the court illustrated what kind of effort the Irish gave on this night — even with a 21-point lead.

The keys going into this game for Notre Dame were to defend well and rebound. The Irish held Hampton to 63-points and out-rebounded the Pirates 55-49.

Must Read: NFL Draft Mock Watch: Josh Adams

The effort was easily enough to secure the 84-63 win in the first round of the NIT. Notre Dame will now face the winner of Penn State and Temple. That battle of the fourth and fifth seeds will take place Wednesday at 8 PM ET on ESPNU. No matter the opponent, Notre Dame will play in round two of the NIT Saturday at noon in South Bend.