With three Top-10 challenges facing his team to open Big East play, Notre Dame coach Mike Brey knew his veteran team had to play its brand of basketball to have a chance.
The Irish got off to a good start in the league last night against No. 9 Georgetown, with No. 5 Syracuse and No. 4 Connecticut looming over the next week.
Tim Abromaitis scored 20 points and Tyrone Nash added 15 points and 10 rebounds to lead No. 15 Notre Dame to a 69-55 win over the visiting Hoyas.
The Irish (12-1) held the nation's fourth-best three-point shooting team to a dismal 4-for-22 (18.1 percent) from the arc.
"I thought we imposed our will," Brey said. "We're old, and you like when you have an old team and they play maturely. We'll smile for another 30 minutes and then we've got to go play an undefeated team [Syracuse] in the Carrier Dome."
Back-to-back three-pointers from Abromaitis and Scott Martin sparked a 14-2 Notre Dame run in the second half to put the Irish up by 16 points with 11:51 to play.
Georgetown (11-2) answered back with a 9-0 run to cut the Irish lead to seven points three minutes later. But Abromaitis hit a 3-pointer from the corner and Ben Hansbrough followed with one of his own with just over six minutes to go to push the Notre Dame lead back to double digits.
"I thought our poise was really good in how we responded," Brey said. "[Abromaitis] is a veteran guy and he senses the moment when we need a little bit of a dagger type shot. He's been doing it a while now."
Austin Freeman, who scored 21 to lead Georgetown, netted four straight to get the deficit back under 10, but a three-point play by Abromaitis with 3:24 left ended the Hoyas' chances for a late comeback.
"I think that part of our maturity is that we have been in situations like that where teams have made runs on us and we have been able to come back from that and we know we can do it if we stay poised," said Abromaitis, one of five senior starters for the Irish. "We slow it down if we need to and get the stops when we need to."
Georgetown guards Chris Wright and Jason Clark, each averaging 13.7 points per game coming in, combined to score 11. Wright managed only three points on 1-for-9 shooting, 0-for-5 from behind the arc.
"You have to give their defense credit," Georgetown coach John Thompson III said of the Irish. "Everything was contested and they did a good job. It seemed like, once we started to miss, it began to snowball."
In other games:
* At North Carolina-Greensboro, Kyle Singler had 27 points, and Nolan Smith scored 26 as No. 1 Duke (12-0) cruised, 108-62, to give coach Mike Krzyzewski sole possession of second place on the men's all-time wins list, with 880.
* At Kansas, Thomas Robinson had 20 points to lead the No. 3 Jayhawks (12-0) over Texas-Arlington, 82-57. Markieff Morris scored 14 points and his twin, Marcus Morris, who lost his starting spot, scored 13.
* At Central Florida, Keith Clanton scored 21 points to lift the No. 19 Knights (12-0), 71-53, over Furman in the UCF Holiday Classic. UCF will play tonight's championship game against Princeton (10-3), which got 19 points from Kareem Maddon in a 65-63 win over Northeastern.
* At Vanderbilt, Andre Walker scored on a layup with 4.1 seconds left, and the No. 24 Commodores (10-2) held off Marquette, 77-76. Vandy junior forward Lance Goulbourne sat out the final game of a two-game NCAA suspension for buying a campus parking pass from a team manager.
* At Richmond, Kevin Anderson scored 23 points and the Spiders (11-3) ended a 17-game losing streak against Wake Forest, beating the Demon Deacons, 90-74.
* At Lehigh, C.J. McCollum had 23 points as the Mountain Hawks (7-6) beat Saint Peter's, 77-64.
* At Iowa, Demetri McCamey had 20 points and No. 23 Illinois (11-3, 1-0 Big Ten) won, 87-77.
* At Gonzaga, Kelly Olynyk scored 15 points and the Bulldogs (8-5) pounded Lafayette, 83-55. The Leopards (4-9) got 21 points from St. Joseph's Prep product Jim Mower.
In women's games:
* At Towson, Md., Diandra Tchatchouang scored 19 points and No. 18 Maryland (12-1) beat No. 17 St. John's, 66-60, to win its tournament, the Terrapin Classic. Junior Eugeneia McPherson had 25 for the Red Storm (12-2).
* At Kentucky, Keyla Snowden scored 16 points and the No. 11 Wildcats (10-1) beat Middle Tennessee State, 81-72.
* Arkansas forward Marshawn Powell was suspended indefinitely for undisclosed reasons. *