If playing well defensively without fouling is a recipe for success in basketball, that would explain succinctly McCallie's 82-61 victory over Notre Dame on Thursday.
For a little more than a quarter, the Blue Tornado and Fighting Irish battled back and forth with neither leading by more than three points. Although he missed an ensuing free throw, C.J. Reese's field goal a minute and a half into the second quarter gave McCallie (3-0) a 22-21 advantage and the lead for good as it started a half-closing 23-7 run.
After the score by Reese, the next trip down the floor the Blue Tornado's Terrance O'Donohue converted a four-point play by making a basket with an intentional-foul call and adding the free throws. Two Notre Dame players had each been called for three fouls in the first quarter, and that was the fourth for one.
"Foul trouble hurt us," said Notre Dame coach Brad Harris, whose team committed the first six fouls in the game and in less than five and a half minutes. "We really had some stuff we wanted to do. We wanted to get after them, and we did that, but with the foul trouble we had to call off the dogs a little bit."
The Irish closed within three when Sheldon Brogden made two free throws with 5:26 left in the half, but that would be Notre Dame's only trip to the line in the game. McCallie coach Dan Wadley said his points of emphasis coming in were contesting 3-point shots without fouling the shooter, denying passes and helping from the back side.
"I think you have to credit McCallie's defense," Harris said. "They kept us out of the paint. Any time you can keep your man in front of you, you can keep him from driving."
After finishing strong in the first half, the Blue Tornado scored the first nine points of the second half. Fifteen was as close as Notre Dame (2-4) would get the rest of the way.
"I told them right before the third quarter we've got to match the intensity we had the last four minutes of the first half," Wadley said. "If we could get them down 20 we could, not relax but be a little more confident. If not, it was going to be a dogfight."
Reese led McCallie with 24 points and O'Donohue had 15. Jamaal Calvin and Jorden Williams scored 11 each and Cordell James added 10.
Notre Dame's catalyst Stedmon Ford totaled 25 points, including five 3-point goals. Brogden contributed 14 points and Kareem Orr chipped in with 12.
Kelley Smiddie is a sports writer who has worked at the Times Free Press for 12 years. He covers high school sports and softball. Kelley’s hometown is Chattanooga, and he graduated from Brainerd High School and graduated Chattanooga State and UTC. Contact Kelley at 423-757-6653 or firstname.lastname@example.org.