Bryant's historic turnaround from a two win team to a 19 win team was well documented a year ago. Tonight the Bulldogs took another step in their young Division I history by playing their first nationally televised game against Notre Dame on ESPNU as part of the Gotham Classic.
After winning four straight, the 6-3 Bulldogs slipped this weekend losing against North Dakota State 66-62 at home. Tim O'Shea's squad certainly did not lack confidence tonight as a Dyami Starks three pointer would give Bryant a 17-12 lead with 11:44 remaining in the first half.
Mike Brey's Irish would adjust quickly to Bryant though, switching up from zone to a man to man defense. The move would not only change the tone of the first half and give the Irish a 39-27 lead at the break, but the stingy defense would hold the nation's ninth highest scorer, Starks, to just 12 points on the evening. All of Starks point would come from a four for seven performance from downtown.
To the Bulldogs credit, Bryant would simply not go away in the second half and it would be the inside play of Notre Dame big man Garrick Sherman that would be the biggest difference for the Irish. Sherman would finish the game with a double-double with 14 points and 13 rebounds.
Notre Dame looked like they would pull away after a flagrant foul from Corey Maynard with just over four minutes left, but Maynard would nail a three pointer to pull the Bulldogs within four points with 2:41 to play. Unfortunately for Bulldogs' fans Jerian Grant would follow up with a three of his own and eventually pull away for a 70-59 victory.
Grant would finish the night with 23 points and an 11 for 13 performance from the charity stripe. Four Bryant Bulldogs finished in double-figures on the evening, lead by Alex Francis with 17.
Notre Dame will continue hosting quality mid-major opponents as 6-3 North Dakota State comes to town Wednesday, a game that will be aired on ESPNU. Bryant will look forward to playing on national TV again as they travel to play #3 Ohio State Wednesday on the Big Ten Network. The Bulldogs will then come back home to host Navy on Saturday.
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