Published January 13, 2015
Jerian Grant poured in a game-high 21 points on 5-of-6 shooting from 3-point range and also dished out eight assists to lead 24th-ranked Notre Dame to a 66-40 win over St. John's on senior night at Purcell Pavilion.
Eric Atkins added 15 points and seven assists and Jack Cooley had 12 points and 13 boards for the Fighting Irish (23-7, 11-6 Big East), who bounced back from a 72-64 loss at Marquette on Saturday.
Jakarr Sampson scored 12 points and Phil Greene IV dropped in 10 for the Red Storm (16-13, 8-9), losers in three straight.
Sir'Dominic Pointer, who scored seven points and pulled down 12 boards, was ejected in the closing stages of the game after fighting Cameron Biedscheid.
It appeared that Biedscheid, who was also ejected, initiated the fracas after pushing Pointer as the Notre Dame seniors were being taken out of the game. Pointer then punched Biedscheid in the face multiple times before the players were separated. Biedscheid also appeared to land at least one blow.
"I didn't really see it. It's unfortunate that it happened," Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey said.
The Irish trailed 26-22 entering the second half, but outscored St. John's 16-4 over the first 8 1/2 minutes to go up 38-30.
Notre Dame continued to poor it on from there and pushed its spread to 60-38 following Pat Connaughton's layup at the 3:33 mark, forcing the Red Storm to call a timeout.
Atkins and Grant knocked down back-to-back triples out of the timeout to push the spread to 28 points, and a pair of Sampson free throws with 1:48 left accounted for the final margin.
"I am thrilled how we defended in the second half and got into an offensive rhythm. We were able to get out in transition and not have to play against a set defense," Brey said. "I thought we were great in our zone, being able to jam it up and keep it to one and done."
After Sampson's free throws, Notre Dame called a timeout to pull its seniors, but instead resulted in the scrum.
The teams traded makes early in the first half until Pointer's jumper ignited an 8-0 run to put the Red Storm up 16-10. The Irish, though, responded with a 9-2 burst of their own to go up 19-18, following Grant's trey with just under five minutes left.
St. John's used another 8-0 burst to go up 26-19, but Atkins drained a triple to make it 26-22 at the break.
"I'm frustrated with our performance in the second half, disappointed with our level of play in the second twenty minutes because the first half was so encouraging," St. John's head coach Steve Lavin said. "There were some really good things that we did in the first half but Notre Dame showed their maturity and in an old-fashioned manner put us away. They put the nail in the coffin and then some. They are to be commended and they are a really good basketball team."
Notre Dame holds a 21-19 lead in the all-time series ... The Irish improved to 17-2 at home this season ... Atkins went 3-for-5 from 3-point range ... St. John's was held to just 14 second-half points after going just 5-for-27 from the floor (18.5 percent) over the final 20 minutes.