SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — In the wake of losing his team's top scorer, Notre Dame coach Mike Brey expected senior point guard Eric Atkins to take on a larger role in the offense.
Atkins did that and more on Sunday. Atkins scored a career-best 30 points to lead the Irish to an 87-81 overtime win on Sunday over Canisius.
It has been a rough week for the Irish (9-4), who blew an 8-point lead late in a loss to No. 3 Ohio State, then lost senior Jerian Grant to an academic violation, and sophomore reserve Cameron Biedscheid to transfer.
In Notre Dame's final non-conference game before its ACC debut on Saturday against No. 9 Duke, Atkins helped make up Grant's missing 19 points per game by shooting 10 of 14 from the field, including 6 of 8 from 3-point range.
"I think it's very fitting that Eric Atkins, given the week that we've had, would just say, 'I got your back, I'm going to carry us,'" Brey said. "He's had nights like that when we've needed it, but now we really need it."
Garrick Sherman converted a three-point play and an offensive putback late in overtime, and Atkins drilled his career-best sixth 3-pointer with 12 seconds to play to seal the Irish win.
"I was just looking to make a play," Atkins said. "I'm not somebody who shows too much emotion. But I got a little hyped after that 3. It felt good to go in."
Sherman finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Billy Baron matched his career high with 33 points to lead Canisius (8-5).
Baron's three-point play with 1:02 left tied the game at 73. In the final minutes, Baron appeared to grab a loose ball with the shot clock winding down on Notre Dame, but stepped out of bounds, giving the ball back to the Irish with 28 seconds left and no shot clock. Baron insisted he called for a timeout, as did his father and head coach, Jim Baron.