SOUTH BEND, Ind. – The Stetson men's basketball team completed a difficult road weekend in falling to #21 Notre Dame by a score of 80-49 at the Purcell Pavilion on Sunday afternoon. Redshirt freshman Brian Pegg led the Hatters with 13 points in the defeat.
In a similar fashion to Friday’s loss at Clemson, Stetson (0-2) got out to a slow start in game two. The Fighting Irish (2-0) raced out to a 17-3 lead just over five minutes into the game thanks to eight points by Pat Connaughton, which included two makes from beyond the arc.
The Hatters showed some fight in using an 8-0 run to cut the Notre Dame lead to just six points with 12:59 to play when Pegg converted on a conventional three-point play off of an assist from freshman Raekwon Harney to make it 17-11.
Notre Dame countered with a 10-point run, capped off by five straight points from Austin Burgett to give the Irish a 27-11 lead with just under nine minutes to play in the first half. The Fighting Irish extended their lead to 30 points by the end of the first 20 minutes, leading Stetson 51-21 at the break.
“Sometimes when your nerves get a hold of you, you tend to lose sight of what you’re trying to do,” Stetson head coach Corey Williams said of the first half play. “I mean, they shot over 60 percent from three-point range. You can’t win any basketball games like that. That’s a credit to Notre Dame. They’re a good basketball team. This was a tall order for us anyway, but in order to play well you have to do the little things.”
Notre Dame shot 61.3 percent (19-for-31) from the floor, 64.3 percent (9-for-14) from three-point range, forced 10 Stetson turnovers, and scored 19 points off of those turnovers in the first half.
Like Friday night, Stetson came back and competed well against the Irish in the second half. Notre Dame outscored the Hatters by a slim 29-28 margin in the final 20 minutes as Stetson held the Irish to 0-for-3 from beyond the arc and turned the ball over just three times in the second period.
The Irish extended their lead to as many as 35 points, but Stetson kept the advantage under 30 for much of the second frame. The Hatters got it as close as 27 points, at 59-32 with 11:16 to play, when freshman Glenn Baral knocked down a three off the dribble off of an assist from Pegg.
Pegg, who finished the game with a team high 13 points, added three rebounds, recorded two assists, picked up one steal, and played a game high 34 minutes for the Hatters.
“He’s the one kid who plays [hard] the whole game,” Williams said of Pegg. “I think he’s a good energy boost for us off the bench, but I think he’s one of the guys I have to have in the lineup at the beginning of the game, because he does so many things [for us]. He works his tail off, he’s a competitor, he wants to win, and he’s one of the guys who gives us toughness.”
Senior Willie Green led Stetson with nine rebounds, added eight points, and blocked two shots in the defeat. Baral finished with seven points, while senior Aaron Graham and sophomore Tanner Plemmons chipped in with six points each, both making a pair of threes.
Jerian Grant and Garrick Sherman led Notre Dame with 15 points each. Grant handed out a game high six assists, matching Stetson’s Harney in the category, while Sherman led the Irish with nine boards.
“My hat is off to Notre Dame,” Williams said. “They are a fine basketball team, they play basketball the right way, so it was a tall order for us. They can score in a number of ways with guys who can beat you on the interior and the exterior. [Head] Coach [Mike] Brey does a wonderful job.”
Stetson’s eight-game road trip to start the first season under Williams continues on Thursday, Nov. 14 when the Hatters travel to Tallahassee to take on Florida A&M at 7:00 p.m.
Note: Aaron Graham’s two three-pointers gave him 170 career makes from beyond the arc. He is now tied with Kerry Blackshear for second all-time in Stetson history. Graham needs just 11 more threes to be the all-time leader.