SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — Sophomore forward Nate Laszewski, filling in for ailing Notre Dame star John Mooney, delivered a pair of dunks off power moves down the stretch as the Fighting Irish pulled away late for a 63-53 victory over Presbyterian on Monday night.
Rex Pflueger scored 13 points and dealt six assists as Notre Dame (4-1) won its fourth straight.
Laszewski scored a season-high 11 points. Juwan Durham also had 11 for the Irish to go with 15 rebounds and four blocked shots.
Sophomore Cory Hightower paced the Blue Hose (1-3) with 15 points and eight rebounds. Ben Drake added 11 points.
Mooney, who had played in each of ND’s previous 73 games over the last two-plus seasons, was out with a stomach virus, according to school spokesperson Alan Wasielewski.
The senior forward is Notre Dame’s leading scorer on the season at 16.5 points and entered the evening sixth in the nation in rebounding at 12.5.
The Irish led just 51-49 before the 6-foot-10 Laszewski made a curl move for a dunk at 8:34 to go.
Laszewski, making his first start of the season, then drove the baseline for another dunk to up the spread to 55-50 at 7:19 remaining and ignited a clinching 9-0 run over the next six minutes.
Presbyterian: The Blue Hose, given an opening by virtue of Mooney’s absence, hung with the heavily favored Irish much of the way, but could not capitalize on ND’s compromised lineup in the long haul. It was the second of three chances they’ll have against Power 5 teams, the remaining one coming Dec. 21 at Michigan.
Notre Dame: ND’s intent coming off its season-opening 76-65 loss at now No. 5 North Carolina was to take care of business over each of six straight home games heading into another big matchup Dec. 4 at No. 6 Maryland. The Irish are two-thirds of the way there.
Presbyterian: The Hose play three games in three days at the Quinnipiac Bobcats Invitational in Hamden, Conn., beginning with Friday’s matchup against Sacred Heart.
Notre Dame: The Irish look to complete a sweep in the five-team, round-robin Men Against Breast Cancer Invitational when they host Toledo on Thursday.