SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — V.J. Beachem had the bounce-back game he needed Monday night for No. 25 Notre Dame.
Beachem scored 20 points to help the Fighting Irish snap a two-game slide with a 77-62 win over Colgate.
Beachem, who averages 15 points per game, returned to form after a four-point performance in a loss to No. 1 Villanova, followed by an ineffective second half in which he took just one shot during a loss to No. 15 Purdue. Beachem knocked down six 3-pointers against Colgate after going only 2 of 8 in the previous two games.
“It was big for me to finally knock down some shots and get into a rhythm,” he said.
Bonzie Colson finished with 13 points and seven rebounds, and Matt Farrell added 13 points and six assists for the Irish (10-2).
Will Ryman had 18 points and Nathan Harris scored 17 for Colgate (2-10), which lost its sixth in a row — all in December.
In the losses to Villanova and Purdue, the Irish led by double digits in the first half of each game, but were outscored by an average of 16 points in the second half.
Against Colgate, they again took a comfortable lead in the first 20 minutes, but struggled to put away the Raiders. Steve Vasturia’s 3-pointer with 7:23 to play gave Notre Dame its largest lead at 21 points, but Colgate went on a 12-1 run to cut it to 10 with 4 minutes to go.
Consecutive baskets by Colson and a 3 by Beachem with 2:48 left got the Irish back on track, part of a 9-2 run in response.
“(Beachem) needed to see some shots go in,” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. “We’re not going to get another NCAA bid without our seniors playing well.”
Notre Dame came in leading the nation with just 8.4 turnovers per game, but committed 10 in the first half alone. Colgate contributed to the early sloppiness with 13 turnovers of its own while shooting only 21 percent from the floor as the Irish built a 16-point halftime lead.
“We turned it over way too many times in the first half,” Colgate coach Matt Langel said. “We didn’t adjust quick enough.”
Notre Dame finished with a season-high 14 turnovers.
Farrell received an early Christmas gift from the Irish after the game. His older brother, Bo, a First Lieutenant with the Army who had been stationed in Afghanistan for seven months, walked out onto the court to surprise Matt.
Brey and his staff had conspired for six weeks to set up the surprise, and even went so far as to prepare a fake video greeting that made it appear Bo was still overseas, just before he walked out to greet his brother.
“He got me,” said Matt, who hadn’t seen Bo since May. “We don’t ask for much for Christmas, so this is the best present I’ve ever gotten.”
Matt joked that he was mad at Brey and the coaching staff for keeping the secret from him for so long.
“He is very upset with me,” Brey said with a smile. “What a neat family celebration.”
Langel was recruited by Brey to play at Delaware, his first head coaching position before coming to Notre Dame. … Notre Dame freshman guard T.J. Gibbs wore No. 25 for the second half because his normal No. 2 was drenched with Gatorade after he dove over the Irish bench for a loose ball in the first half.
Colgate: In the Raiders’ two wins, they’ve knocked down 25 3-pointers while shooting 49 percent from long range. Against the Irish, Colgate hit just one of its first nine 3s and finished 6 of 19.
Notre Dame: The Irish enter their holiday break with a win but plenty to work on after an uninspired effort against Colgate.
Colgate: The Raiders end nonconference play at Duquesne on Thursday, then begin Patriot League play on Dec. 30 at Lafayette.
Notre Dame: The Irish have one more nonconference tuneup at home against Saint Peter’s on Dec. 28 before beginning ACC play at Pittsburgh on Dec. 31.
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