December 19, 2018 / 2:26 AM / a month ago

Irish prevail despite early fight from Binghamton

EditorsNote: rewords third graf

Playing its first game without senior starter Rex Pflueger, Notre Dame used a 16-4 run early in the second half to finally gain separation from Binghamton and coast to a 69-56 win Tuesday night in Notre Dame, Ind.

TJ Gibbs and reserve Juwan Durham each scored 16 points to lead the Fighting Irish (8-3), with Durham adding a game-high-tying 12 rebounds. Notre Dame shot 17 of 34 from the field after halftime, a marked improvement over its 8 of 31 shooting in the first half.

Part of that might have been adjusting to the loss of Pflueger, a 6-foot-6 guard who tore his ACL Saturday in an 88-80 win over Purdue. Pflueger was averaging 8.1 points, 4.7 rebounds and 4.3 assists in 30-plus minutes per game, and he dished out 10 assists against the Boilermakers.

Sam Sessoms pumped in a game-high 25 points for the Bearcats, but it wasn’t enough to keep them from dropping to 3-9. No one else stepped up to help Sessoms as Binghamton hit only 41 percent from the field and a miserable 6 of 28 on 3-point tries.

Still, the Bearcats trailed only 25-23 just over 90 seconds into the second half after J.C. Show canned a pullup jumper. But the Irish responded, Gibbs starting their game-breaking run with a layup and a jumper around a layup from Harvey.

Harvey’s three-point play with 13:02 left upped the margin to 41-25, and although Binghamton was able to pull within seven points in the last two minutes, that deficit was too much for the visitors to overcome.

Show’s 3-point bucket at the 16:28 mark of the first half staked the Bearcats to a 7-0 lead, and they held the advantage for much of the half. Notre Dame finally evened the score on a 3-pointer by Nikola Djogo with 8:04 remaining, and took its first lead when John Mooney made a free throw 36 seconds later.

The lead went back and forth for the half’s remainder, with the Irish scoring the period’s final five points to take a four-point edge into intermission.

—Field Level Media

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