Notre Dame's dandy second-half defense drops Michigan

Notre Dame fights past Michigan (3:16)

ESPN college basketball reporter Eamonn Brennan recaps No. 6 Notre Dame's 70-63 win over No. 11 Michigan in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. (3:16)

BROOKLYN, N.Y. -- V.J. Beachem had put Notre Dame in the lead with two minutes left, but offense hadn't been the issue for the Fighting Irish on Friday night.

Michigan was finding open perimeter shots at will in the first half, and while the Fighting Irish had turned up the intensity after halftime, the Wolverines were still getting buckets when they needed.

Until the final minute.

Demetrius Jackson and Bonzie Colson missed layups that would have extended Notre Dame's lead, giving Michigan one final possession in its first-round NCAA tournament game. Derrick Walton was cut off by Jackson, and after a series of handoffs that didn't free anyone up, Notre Dame freshman Rex Pflueger was switched on to Michigan sophomore Zak Irvin. The Irish defense stayed home and didn't gamble, forcing Michigan to create a final shot.

Irvin's deep pull-up jumper didn't fall, Colson grabbed the rebound, and Notre Dame held on for a 70-63 win.

Notre Dame's offense will get the headlines from the win: The Fighting Irish shot 58 percent from the field, 53 percent from 3-point range and 80 percent from the free throw line. But it was the defense that ended up securing the win late.

Michigan made only two of its final nine field goal attempts, and also went through a nearly six-minute drought earlier in the second half. The Wolverines were 3-of-13 from 3-point range after halftime, and made only nine shots from the field in the second half.

Scoring has been a constant for Mike Brey's Notre Dame teams the past couple of seasons, but getting stops when it counts hasn't exactly been a theme for them. That changed Friday night -- against a team with multiple scorers that can consistently shoot from the perimeter. If the second half is more indicative of Notre Dame's performance moving forward, that bodes well for Brey & Co.