SOUTH BEND, Ind. — It’s the kind of game No. 5 Notre Dame has been waiting to see from 6-foot-10 senior center Martinas Geben — his first career double-double coming Sunday in a 71-53 victory over St. Francis (Brooklyn).
Fighting Irish coach Mike Brey and All-American forward Bonzie Colson would have preferred not to see the final 6 minutes, 2 seconds in the locker room, watching on Colson’s cellphone after both were ejected.
“It’s nice to have a passionate coach who is not going to back down and is going to stand up for us, but he needs to stay a little more composed,” Geben, who is from Lithuania, joked after the Irish (7-1) rebounded from their first loss of the year, a 81-63 defeat by No. 3 Michigan State on Thursday.
Geben was one of five players in double figures — Colson had 13, Matt Farrell 12 and T.J. Gibbs and D.J. Harvey 10 each — for Notre Dame, which shot 41.4 percent for the game, including 27.6 percent in the second half. Geben had 14 points and 10 rebounds.
“This double-double could be a habit if he gets his minutes,” Brey said after notching his 389th victory at Notre Dame, leaving him four shy of tying Digger Phelps as the school’s all-time leader in men’s basketball. “That’s a first for me. I wish I was a little calmer. In hindsight, I certainly can’t have my guy sitting in the locker room all by himself.”
Colson, who also had nine rebounds, received a flagrant foul and was ejected after swinging his elbows and sending the Terriers’ Glenn Sanabria to the floor. After Colson departed, Brey had to be restrained by his staff twice and was finally ejected.
Longtime assistant Rod Balanis finished up the contest that had four technicals, two by each team, and 31 personal fouls, 21 by the 2-6 Terriers, who got 10 points each from Jalen Jordan, Rasheem Dunn and Darelle Porter.
Terriers coach Glenn Braica did not come to the post-game interview room.
Colson, who had made one of two free throws when he was elbowed on a flagrant foul by Daarelle Porter with 14:55 to go, said he should have kept his composure better.
“There was a lot of slapping and I was just trying to be strong with it,” Colson said about flailing his elbows. “I didn’t think it was a flagrant 2, but you learn from it and you grow. I feel I let my team down a little bit.”
St. Francis: The Terriers, one of four teams never to have played in the NCAA Tournament, were picked to finish last in the Northeast Conference preseason coaches’ poll. Braica’s 15-man roster has five freshmen and three sophomores, with two freshmen (Chauncey Hawkins and Jalen Jordan) and one sophomore (Milija Cosic) starting.
Notre Dame: The Irish struggled early until getting their defensive legs. Leading just 16-14 at a media timeout with 10:49 to go in the first half, the Irish forced five turnovers en route to a 43-25 halftime lead. But their offensive woes returned in the second half.
Notre Dame, which led the nation in free-throwing shooting last season at 80 percent, came into the contest hitting 74.1 percent, 82nd in the country, and promptly missed its first two, both by Rex Pflueger. The Irish finished the first half at 9-13 (69.2 percent). Notre Dame finished the game 20 of 29 from the charity stripe (69 percent) and Geben was 6 for 6.
St. Francis freshman Jalen Jordan made a 3-pointer with 5:02 to play in the first half to pull the Terriers within 28-22 and then ended a 14-0 Irish run with another 3-pointer with 25 seconds to play. Jordan hit 3 of 6 3-pointers for the Terriers, who were 6 of 23. Notre Dame managed only 3 of 14, two by Gibbs.
St. Francis: The Terriers travel to the Bronx on Saturday to play Fordham.
Notre Dame: The Irish host Ball State on Tuesday night.