Notre Dame 56, Fordham 46
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) _ Notre Dame’s backcourt and freshmen reserves came through on Thursday night in a 56-46 victory as Fordham triple-teamed center LaPhonso Ellis in the opening round of the Big Apple NIT.
Staring guard Elmer Bennett scored 13 of his 16 points in the second half and freshman reserve guard Carl Cozen added 12 points, all on 3-pointers.
Ellis, Notre Dame’s top returning scorer with a 14-point average, was held to six points by the collapsing defense.
Jean Prioleau led Fordham with 18 points.
Notre Dame will play the winner of Thursday night’s game between No. 19 Temple and Iowa on Saturday night in the second round of the 16-team tournament.
The Irish ran off eight straight points, three from Kevin Ellery, for a 40-29 lead with 12:14 remaining, and Fordham never got closer than eight points after that.
Sluggish first-half play, marked by Fordham’s 25 percent field-goal shooting and Notre Dame’s 34 percent, hampered both teams. Notre Dame trailed 11-6 with 12:24 left in the half and couldn’t catch Fordham even though the Rams failed to score for more than six minutes.
The Irish freshmen off the bench stirred the offense, scoring 16 points in the final 10 minutes of the first half. Cozen led the inexperienced attack with three 3-pointers, two within one minute to give Notre Dame the lead for good, 16-14, with 5:07 left.