SOUTH BEND, Ind. – A second straight rough start has first-year Stetson coach Corey Williams scratching his head.
Two days after the Hatters managed just 15 first-half points in a blowout loss at Clemson, they weren't much better to open Sunday's game against No. 21 Notre Dame.
Stetson (0-2) scored 21 points while shooting just 27 percent and committing 10 turnovers in the first half as the Irish (2-0) took an early lead they would never relinquish in an 80-49 victory.
The second game wasn't much better than the first and his team's slow starts have Williams at a loss.
"Right now, I'm searching for that," Williams said. "I thought we would do a little bit better of a job today after the Clemson debacle."
Jerian Grant and Garrick Sherman scored 15 points each, and Notre Dame won for the second game in three days. Pat Connaughton added 10 points for the Irish (2-0), while Sherman led the team with nine rebounds. Senior point guard Eric Atkins finished with eight points, leaving him five short of 1,000 for his career.
Reserve Brian Pegg led the Hatters (0-2) with 13 points and Willie Green added eight points and nine rebounds.
The Irish took a double-digit lead less than 5 minutes in as they improved to 48-0 at home in November under head coach Mike Brey.
The Hatters started 1 of 5 from the field with four turnovers in the first 5 minutes. That fueled a 12-0 run that put the Irish out front 17-3, with 10 points coming off Stetson turnovers.
"We were so efficient in the first half," Brey said. "We were solid defensively, keeping them to one-and-done. That's how we play. That's our program."
The Hatters, who lost over 64 percent of their scoring from last season and are still looking for some offensive cohesiveness with nine new faces on the roster, got some help from their reserves. Pegg, a redshirt freshman, entered the game after Notre Dame's run and delivered two three-point plays during an 8-0 run to get the deficit down to six points, 7 minutes in. But that was as close as Stetson got the rest of the way.
"They have the guys that can score from the interior, from the exterior, they can penetrate, find each other," Williams said. "We are still learning about each other as a team."
The Irish, who opened the season Friday with a 74-62 win over Miami of Ohio, answered with their own bench as freshman Demetrius Jackson had a coast-to-coast layup and Austin Burgett scored five straight points to get the lead back to 16 with 9 minutes left in the half. The lead grew to 23 with eight straight points from Grant, who finished the first half with 13.
"We try to come out the gates hot and get off to a great start," said Jackson, who finished with nine points off the bench. "That's what the starters did today."
Notre Dame shot 64 percent (9 for 13) from 3-point range and 61 percent overall from the field in the first half.
"You can't win any basketball games like that," Williams said. "This was a tall order for us."
The second half held little drama as Notre Dame's lead never dipped below 27 points. Brey was able to give extensive minutes to all ten of his players. Nine of those ten scored and none played fewer than 15 minutes Sunday.