Early in the third quarter of Friday’s game against Marist, Notre Dame’s Ammar Becar came around a back screen and received a lob pass from teammate Anthony D’Avanzo for an easy alley-oop layup. A minute later, Becar reciprocated the effort, throwing the ball to D’Avanzo as the he came off a screen before finishing for the score.
It was that kind of night for the No. 19 Dons.
Notre Dame was nearly flawless on offense, sharing the ball to find the open man and crashing the glass to earn extra chances, as it clinched a share of the East Suburban Catholic with a 68-44 home victory in Niles.
“Sharing the ball is huge for us,” senior Joe Mooney said. “We have five guys on the floor that can score, and that allows us to play well. Shooters are knocking down shots, big men are finishing, and that really opens things up.”
The Dons (22-4, 8-0) jumped out to a huge lead and never looked back, thanks in large part to Mooney’s early scoring. The 6-3 guard outscored the entire RedHawks team in the first half, putting up 18 points as Notre Dame led 37-17 at the break.
He didn’t score a single point in the second half, but he didn’t need to. Becar was a force down low, scoring on a variety of different shots and put-backs to lead the Dons with 22 points, along with his eight rebounds and five assists. D’Avanzo added five points, seven rebounds and six assists, as interior passing was instrumental in breaking down Marist’s zone defense.
“Once we started making their defense shift, it allowed us open lanes to attack and make that extra pass,” Becar said. “This game was one of our, as a team collectively, best games we’ve played. Everybody chipped in.”
Notre Dame finished with 16 assists on 28 field goals and also scored 12 second-chance points. That allowed the lead to stretch to as wide as 30 points midway through the fourth quarter.
“We have a lot of guys who are very unselfish,” Notre Dame coach Tom Les said. “Offensively, we moved the ball really well. And we made the extra pass, which got us a wide-open looks. Even our second group played very well, which I am proud of.”
Marist (20-8, 5-3) received a strong effort off the bench from Malik Parker, who led the RedHawks with 16 points.