The Commercial Appeal

Colson’s career day leads Fighting Irish by ‘Noles


SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Bonzie Colson is loving Notre Dame’s commitment to small ball.

The Irish recently began playing with a predominan­tly four-guard lineup around Colson and the results the last two games have been dramatic.

Colson scored a career-high 33 points and grabbed 13 rebounds Saturday to help Notre Dame avenge a January loss to Florida State with an 84-72 win over the No. 15 Seminoles (No. 14 in AP).

This performanc­e comes on the heels of a 27-point, 16-rebound outing against Wake Forest on Tuesday, and it had Irish coach Mike Brey thinking in historical terms.

“That was one of the great performanc­es in our program’s history — bigtime team on national TV, what a delivery,” Brey said. “He’s in an unbelievab­le groove.”

Colson eclipsed 1,000 points for his Irish career, and the ACC’s leading rebounder also recorded his 16th doubledoub­le of the season.

“If he keeps this surge up, he’ll be in the discussion for player of the year,” Brey said.

Colson nearly blew the lid off Purcell Pavilion with a personal 7-0 run, highlighte­d by a three-point play and a tip-in of a V.J. Beachem missed 3, pushing Notre Dame’s lead to 17 points with 15:39 to play.

“I was just going to the glass, on every play that’s what I try to do,” Colson said. “Every time that ball goes up, I do my best to go attack the board and get the rebound.”

Matt Farrell added 15 points and nine assists for Notre Dame (19-7, 8-5 ACC) and Steve Vasturia chipped in with 15 points and seven boards.

Coming off a dominant three-game winning streak during which they won by an average of 33 points, the Seminoles (21-5, 9-4) found themselves down by 11 points in the first half and had no answer in the second half for Colson, who scored 20 after the break.

“He was an exceptiona­lly tough matchup for us,” said Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton. “We had to go to a smaller lineup to have somebody that’s mobile enough to defend him.”

Terrance Mann led Florida State with 15 points and Dwayne Bacon and Trent Forrest each had 12.

Florida State got within 12 on a Jarquez Smith alley-oop dunk, but Colson hit a pair of free throws then threw down a two-handed slam on a feed from Farrell, and followed with a layup on another give from Farrell with six minutes to play.

“I don’t even know what to say about him anymore, he’s unbelievab­le,” Farrell said. “He finds open spots and makes it easier for me.”

SEMINOLE STRUGGLES: In Florida State’s win over the Irish, freshman Jonathan Isaac had 23 points, 10 rebounds and seven blocks, but in the rematch, Isaac failed to score in the first half and finished with just four points. He was not alone in his struggles.

The Seminoles had trouble shooting from anywhere outside the paint, going just 3 of 15 from 3-point range and 7 of 22 from the free throw line.

Notre Dame, the nation’s best free throw shooting team, hit 19 of 21, and despite using the smaller lineup, won the rebounding battle, 41-34

“That was probably the best we’ve played in league play on both ends of the floor,” Brey said. “Our position defense was excellent and even though we played small, we held our own on the backboards.”

IRISH IN THE HUNT: After snapping a four-game losing streak earlier in the week against Wake Forest, the Fighting Irish have now won two straight to remain in the hunt for a top-four finish in the ACC and a double-bye in the league’s postseason tournament.

“You lose four in a row, a lot of teams can get down on themselves,” Vasturia said. “I think we did a great job of stepping up to the challenge.”

UP NEXT: Florida State–The Seminoles, who play four of their final six on the road beginning with Notre Dame, enjoy a week off before traveling to Pittsburgh next Saturday.

Notre Dame–The Irish travel to Boston College on Tuesday.

 ?? MATT CASHORE/USA TODAY SPORTS ?? Florida State guard Trent Forrest shoots around Notre Dame guard Steve Vasturia on Saturday in South Bend, Ind.
MATT CASHORE/USA TODAY SPORTS Florida State guard Trent Forrest shoots around Notre Dame guard Steve Vasturia on Saturday in South Bend, Ind.

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