SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP)—Colin Falls’ left foot felt better after he sat out two games. His shot looked pretty good, too.
Falls made his first seven shots, including four 3-pointers, and finished with a season-high 24 points to help 20th-ranked Notre Dame grab control early en route to an 88-47 victory over Army on Thursday night.
“I think I’m moving better,” said Falls, who missed two games with inflammation in his foot. “It’s like I’m playing with a free mind.”
Falls, who received shock wave therapy on the foot, scored nine of Notre Dame’s first 12 points. At one point, he was outscoring Army 18-15. Falls might have stretched the margin but sat out the last seven minutes of the first half.
The Irish, who led 46-20 at halftime, didn’t need any more from Falls, though. He played only five minutes in the second half, for a total of 18 minutes in the game.
Irish coach Mike Brey wasn’t surprised by Falls’ start, saying he was just as hot in practice Wednesday.
“He was just so anxious to play that he was shot out of a cannon,” Brey said. “I am not surprised that he was back with a vengeance. It certainly was a great shot in the arm. That helped our focus, having him back.”
Falls was 6-of-8 from 3-point range as Notre Dame had a season-high 15 3-pointers and won its ninth straight game, its longest win streak in 20 years.
The 88 points by the Irish were the most allowed by Army this season. The previous high was 72 by VMI. The 47 points by the Knights also was a season low. The previous low was 56 points against Cornell.
“We got beat every which way,” Army coach Jim Crews said. “Notre Dame played harder than us, they competed harder than us, they played smarter than us and they did a great job of making the extra pass and knowing where their shooters are. Falls seemed like he hit about every shot there for about 30 minutes.”
Falls left the game midway through the second half and sat at the end of the bench with his foot on ice, but said it felt fine.
“I felt loose and I was moving better and hopefully it continues,” he said.
The loss ended a six-game win streak for the Black Knights, their longest winning streak since the 1984-85 season. Matt Bell had 15 points to lead Army, which shot a season-low 35 percent.
Russell Carter added 12 points—ending a streak of three straight games with at least 20 points. Luke Harangody added 10 points and 12 rebounds for the Irish—who had a 45-22 rebounding advantage.
The last time the Irish won nine straight was during the 1986-87 season, when they won 11 in a row before losing to North Carolina in the third round of the NCAA tournament. Brey said he hasn’t talked to the players about the streak, but plans to after Christmas break.
“They’ve done some good things to date and I think anything you can do to grow confidence and security, I think it’s a good thing with this team,” Brey said.