SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — Bonzie Colson returned to the Notre Dame lineup Wednesday and almost picked up where he left off with 12 points and nine rebounds in 21 minutes of action as the Irish easily beat Pittsburgh, 73-56, on Wednesday night.
Colson’s fellow seniors also had big nights with Matt Farrell scoring 14 points and Martinas Geben finishing with nine points and 13 rebounds. T.J. Gibbs also scored 14 for the Irish (18-12, 8-9 Atlantic Coast Conference), who have won two straight and five of their last seven.
Jared Wilson-Frame had a game-high 20 points and Terrell Brown and Shamiel Stevenson had 10 each for Pittsburgh (8-23, 0-18), which concluded its regular season with its 18th straight defeat in ACC play.
A preseason Associated Press All-America pick, Colson played his last game on Dec. 30 against Georgia Tech on a broken bone in his left foot and had his 32nd career double-double. During his time recovering from surgery, Notre Dame, once as high as No. 5 in early December, went 6-9 in the ACC, enduring a seven-game losing streak.
Colson played the first 6:45 before taking a breather with the Irish ahead 12-11. Notre Dame opened a 27-13 lead with seven minutes remaining on back-to-back 3-pointers by Farrell and Gibbs before settling for a 39-23 halftime lead. Colson’s layup early in the second half made it 45-23 and the Irish cruised from there.
Pittsburgh: The Panthers, who had clinched last place in the 15-school ACC and will play the No. 10 seed in next week’s tournament in Brooklyn, started four freshmen — guards Parker Stewart and Khameron Davis and frontliners Brown and Stevenson — with senior guard Jonathan Milligan. The Panthers have not won since beating Towson before Christmas. The coaching status of Kevin Stallings, in his second year at Pitt and with four years remaining on his contract, is rumored to be very tenuous.
Notre Dame: Colson started and played to the first media break 6:45 into the contest. He got the first rebound of the game and had the second rebound stripped from him before diving for the loose ball. He scored eight points on 4-of-6 shooting, had six rebounds, one assist and two blocks in playing 12 minutes in the first half. His presence could help the Irish in next week’s ACC Tournament and whatever tournament — NCAA or NIT — that takes the team.
Pittsburgh: Plays Tuesday afternoon first-round ACC Tournament game in Brooklyn against No. 10 seed yet to be determined.
Notre Dame: Visits No. 1 Virginia Saturday afternoon to conclude regular season.
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