Published January 05, 2013
SOUTH BEND, Ind. – Seton Hall already was short-handed with three injured players, so coach Kevin Willard didn't have anyone to turn to when Brandon Mobley got into foul trouble against No. 21 Notre Dame on Saturday, especially with backup center Kevin Johnson limited in how much he could play just 12 days after undergoing knee surgery.
"Once Brandon leaves us right now we've got no one else to play power forward. So it becomes tough to play in this league with just one power forward and one center. That's why we stuck with the zone," Willard said.
The Irish took advantage as Scott Martin had a season-high 22 points on a career-high six 3-pointers to lead the Irish to a 93-74 victory.
Notre Dame coach Mike Brey had little sympathy that the Pirates had only seven healthy players, pointing out the Irish only used seven players until garbage time at the end of the game.
But he did concede it was difficult for the Pirates to be without Brian Oliver, a transfer from Georgia Tech who is averaging 8.5 points and 4.2 rebounds who has had a sprained ankle the past two games.
"They're missing Oliver," Brey said. "They need him back. But they're going to beat some people because they can score that thing and shoot it. They're making double-digit 3s quite regularly. And the zone, if you're not great with the ball, you're going to turn the ball over with that zone matchup thing."
Jack Cooley added 19 points and 13 rebounds and Eric Atkins had 17 points and 10 assists as the Irish (13-1, 1-0 Big East) won their 11th straight, their second-longest winning streak in 13 seasons under Brey. The loss ended a seven-game winning streak for Seton Hall (12-3, 1-1).
Cosby and Edwin led the Pirates with 21 points each, with Cosby hitting five 3-pointers, and Gene Teague had 17 points and nine rebounds.
"You start off this trip at DePaul, at Notre Dame in the Big East, you're hoping to go 1-1," Willard said. "If you get both, it's great. You just don't want to lose both."
It was the best game of the season for Martin, whose previous high was 14 points with four 3-pointers in a victory over Brown. Martin, a sixth-year senior, said he focused on improving his outside shooting during the offseason with the help of his younger brother, Andy.
"He came over and hung out with me this summer, worked me out, and I was able to get some shots up. We worked on the jumper. He ironed it out. We discussed all of the little mechanics. No big changes, just little things. He did a lot of rebounding for me," Martin said.
Willard noticed the difference.
"He's got a much more fluid release. Plus he's just a very smart basketball player. He doesn't get in trouble. He really complements Cooley really well," Willard said.
The Irish opened a 35-25 lead with 3:40 left in the first half on a three-point play by Cooley to cap a 10-2 run. The Pirates quickly cut the lead to 37-34 with three baskets inside, including a fastbreak by Edwin, and a 3-pointer by Haralds Karlis. But a late run by the Irish opened the 44-36 halftime lead.
Martin started the second half with two quick 3-pointers sandwiched around a 15-foot jumper by Jerian Grant, who had 13 points. Another 3-pointer by Martin 3 minutes into the second half gave the Irish a 58-41 lead. Pat Connaughton then scored on a rebound of his own missed shot to make it 60-41. The Irish later stretched the lead to 66-43 with another 3 by Martin, who was 6 of 7 from 3-point range.
"We kind of lost him a few times, and they did a good job of finding him," Cosby said.