ROSEMONT, Ill. – Ben Hansbrough scored 24 points and No. 9 Notre Dame used runs at the end of the first half and beginning of the second Thursday night to rout DePaul 83-58, running the Irish's winning streak to four games.
Notre Dame (18-4, 7-3) was coming off a nine-day layoff following its upset win at Pittsburgh on Jan. 24. It didn't take long for the rust — if there was much at all — to go away.
DePaul lost its 22nd straight Big East game, counting one in the league tournament. The Blue Demons (6-15, 0-9) have also dropped 25 straight to ranked opponents.
Scott Martin added 15 points and Tim Abromatis 13 for the Irish. Freshman Brandon Young led DePaul with 16. The Blue Demons' leading scorer Cleveland Melvin, averaging 14.5, managed just four.
Hansbrough, who was 5-for-8 on 3-pointers, hit a pair early in the second half as the Irish expanded a 37-24 halftime lead quickly into a 48-29 lead with less than four minutes in the half. At the end of the 15-5 run, Notre Dame was up 52-29 as the talent disparity between the two old rivals became even more apparent.
Hansbrough, who sparked the win over Pitt with 19 points, had a flying highlight-reel, one-handed dunk after driving through the lane and finished the opening half with 11 points. He was the catalyst in the Irish's closing run that gave them a 37-24 halftime lead.
After Hansbrough had his shot blocked from behind, he came up with the ball and fed Carleton Scott for a dunk. Moments later Hansbrough hit a free throw and then found Eric Atkins, who was open for a 3-pointer from the corner to give the Irish a 30-20 lead late in the half.
Tyrone Nash then tracked down a loose ball and sank a 3-pointer just as the shot clock was expiring to put the Irish up 33-22.
Then it was Hansbrough hitting a 3-pointer to cap the 14-2 spurt and the Irish were rolling at 36-22 with just over two minutes remaining.
Hansbrough momentarily hit his leg when he went down to retrieve a ball early in the second half, but shook that off quickly and hit a 3-pointer, putting the Irish up 40-24.
Abromaitis, in a scoring slump with only eight points in the previous two games, hit a 3-pointer and Scott, who missed two early dunks in the second half, had two free throws to make it 45-29. Hansbrough then found the range again from beyond the 3-point line and the Irish were sailing by 18 before four minutes had expired in the second half.
DePaul, one of the nation's poorest 3-point shooting teams (27 percent entering the game), made 3 of 12 in the first half and finished the game 9-for-25. The Blue Demons shot just 35 percent overall.
(This version CORRECTS No. 9 Notre Dame 83, DePaul 58. Corrects DePaul conference record to 0-9, third graf)