LAHAINA, Hawaii — Matt Farrell led a big first-half surge, Bonzie Colson played his usual always-under-control game and Notre Dame handled a lower-tier school the way it was supposed to.
Now it’s on to the Maui Invitational semifinals, where the competition figures to get a whole lot stiffer.
Farrell scored 27 points and Colson added 23, helping the No. 13 Irish open the Maui Invitational with an 83-56 rout over Division II Chaminade on Monday night.
“Matty and Bonzie set the tone for us,” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. “They’re our veteran guys. While some other guys were a little excited in this atmosphere and it was kind of new to them, I thought those two guys really settled.”
Notre Dame (4-0) was sharp from the start at the offensive end, building a nine-point halftime lead and gradually extending it in the second half by making 14 of 26 shots.
The Irish shot 54 per cent and made 9 of 20 from 3-point range to earn a spot in Tuesday’s semifinals against LSU.
“When we’re in good rhythm, we’re getting stops defensively,” said Colson, who had eight rebounds and made 8 of 11 shots. “We feel like we can move with rhythm defensively. It’s great to get stops and kills and shoot with confidence.”
Chaminade (2-1) kept it close early with its perimeter shooting before wearing down against the bigger Irish.
Erik Scheive had 17 points to lead tournament host Chaminade, which made 7 of 29 from 3-point range and shot 35 per cent overall.
“Through stretches of the game, I thought we played really well. Then we had, of course, some bad stretches,” Chaminade coach Eric Bovaird said. “Transition defence was not very good tonight. They got a lot of run outs for easy baskets that really hurt us. But overall, we competed through stretches.”
The Silverswords have made a name for themselves by slashing down giants, starting with their 1982 home victory over giant Ralph Sampson and top-ranked Virginia. Chaminade has picked up more upsets through the years at the Maui Invitational, taking down powers like Texas, Oklahoma, Villanova and Stanford with their ability to work the ball around quickly and knock down long-range shots.
The Silverswords opened this season with victories over Alaska and Alaska Anchorage, but the Irish are like a five-headed monster of length, athleticism and shooters.
They also have Colson, a do-it-all, preseason All-America Irish coach Mike Brey complimented by saying he has no neck and is a beautiful basketball player in the same sentence.
Chaminade, as usually is the case in Maui, kept it close early with its shooting, hitting 4 of 8 from 3-pont range.
Once Notre Dame expanded its defensive net, the Silverswords were unable to move without an Irish in their face, leading to a scoreless drought of more than 5 minutes.
“There is a reason they’re on all the preseason lists and everything like that,” Scheive said. “We just tried to make it as tough as possible. I think in the atmosphere sometimes our concepts, we forgot it.”
Notre Dame created its own room to shoot, zipping around or rising above the Silverswords while hitting 14 of 26 shots to lead 38-29 at halftime. It would have been bigger, but Chaminade’s Brett Reed hit a running 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Farrell had 16 by halftime and kept shooting, scoring five quick points to put the Irish up 46-34, well on their way to the rout.
Notre Dame played the way it needed to against a DII school, but will get a much bigger test in the semifinals.
Chaminade had some good moments before wearing down, but come away with another game of experience against a top-tier program, something that should help later in the season.
COMPETING IN THE PAINT
In the paint is where Chaminade typically has trouble against the bigger programs, but the Silverswords held their own inside for the most part. Chaminade had a 26-24 advantage inside, had one fewer rebound and a 13-6 advantage on the offensive glass.
While many coaches in Maui opt for colorful Hawaiian shirts or simple golf shirts in Maui, Notre Dame went full-on Maui casual for its opener. Brey and his coaches all wore blue ND logo T-shirts, grey shorts and tennis shoes for the game.
Notre Dame faces LSU in Tuesday’s semifinals
Chaminade plays Michigan in the loser’s bracket.