Pressure defense carries Notre Dame boys to win

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Notre Dame downed Westminster behind 20 points from Tolbert

Jacob Tolbert scored 20 points to help Notre Dame overcome a sluggish second quarter and put away Westminster 70-48 in the Bulldogs' home opener Friday night.

Tolbert had 15 of his game-high 20 points in the first quarter, including an emphatic two-handed dunk.

"We just moved it around real fast and tried to work it inside," Tolbert said. "We knew they were a small team. We were just working hard on the press and getting steals."

The Bulldogs' defense was crucial in jumping out to an early 7-0 lead and an 18-7 advantage after the first period.

Notre Dame forced numerous turnovers that led to easy buckets to build a quick lead.

"We're a pressing team," Bulldogs coach Kevin Roberts said. "We have to get the tempo going. We really guarded well to start the game and got some turnovers and some easy buckets at the other end."

The second quarter was quite the contrast.

Westminster started to figure out the Bulldogs' press and Notre Dame's offense was slowed.

Notre Dame didn't score until Liam Maher hit a 3-pointer 5 minutes, 30 seconds into the quarter.

"They started helping inside on Jacob a lot," Roberts said of Westminster. "We got good quality shots. Our shooters, Liam and Taylor [Essner], are going to make shots. We kind of went in a lull. We have to have that killer mentality and put teams away."

The Bulldogs' slow period allowed the Wildcats to claw back. Westminster outscored Notre Dame 17-12 to head into the half down 30-24. Tolbert said Roberts made sure his team was ready for the second half.

"He told us we have got to keep the intensity up," Tolbert said. "We slacked off there for a little bit. We got ahead and thought we had them. We had to figure out at halftime a way to come out and put them away."

That's what the Bulldogs did.

They used seven different scorers to outscore the Wildcats 25-8 in the quarter.

The Bulldogs continued to hold their lead in the second half, mainly because of strong inside play by Matt Helle and the perimeter shooting by their guards.

Maher knocked down a 3, Taylor Essner buried a deep 3 and Ke-Ke Kellum hit back-to-back 3-pointers to put the game out of reach.

Maher finished with four 3-pointers.

"It's good because it gets Jake and Matt down on the post," Maher said. "It frees them up."

"It's so big," Roberts said of the outside shooting. "It really makes the defense extend out. Now they have to guard out on the perimeter, which opens up Matt and Jacob. If we can knock down some open shots, we're pretty good, and then we can throw it down low and score."

Notre Dame18122515--70

WESTMINSTER (48) -- Daniel Alexander 2, Richard Copeland 3, Ryan Haxel 2, Alex Cusumano 2, Timmy Miller 7, Connor Fleming 5, John Steiner 6, Tony Thompson 12, Luke Kuiper 5, Jack Dohr 4. FG 18, FT 11-15, F 14. (3-pointers: Copeland 1. Fouled out: None)

NOTRE DAME (70) -- Jacob Tolbert 20, Liam Maher 12, Matt Helle 10, Luciano Starling 7, Ke-Ke Kellum 6, Nick Koeppel 4, Tanner Hiett 4, Taylor Essner 3, Dylan Essner 2, Derek Landewee 2. FG 28, FT 5-17, F 18. (3-pointers: Maher 4, Kellum 2, T. Essner 1. Fouled out: None)

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