Notre Dame Edged 84-82 by Green and Hoyas in BET Semifinal

Fans could excuse the Fighting Irish squad some confidence and swagger coming into tonight’s Big East Tournament semifinal game with the #1 seeded Hoyas of Georgetown. After all, the Irish, widely expected to finish in the Big East basement, managed to go 24-6, sew up a spot in the dance, and, well, make it this far in the conference tournament. In fact, the squad has been so dynamic and offensively stellar this season, many of those same fans had a rather disquieting sense of confidence as well, and despite the 84-82 loss, the confidence seems very, very well placed going into the field of 65.

The Irish got off to a quick start, perhaps too quick, taking successive leads of 13-6, 22-13, 29-17, and a remarkable 35-21 by the seven minute mark of the opening half on a barrage of three-pointers by Russell Carter, Colin Falls, and Luke Zeller.

By contrast, the much bigger, much more physical Georgetown looked often times sluggish and slow at the outset with a number of errant passes and poor shot selections. The Hoyas seemed content to sit back and take the best the high-tempo transition offense of the Irish could offer.

Carter, who finished the day with a team leading 21 points and nine rebounds, seemed simply on fire in the first half, hitting his deep rhythm early and finishing 5-12 from three point range.

Georgetown closed the first half behind the tremendously impressive junior forward, and Big East player of the year, Jeff Green who finished the half with 17 points, nine of which came from his perfect shooting from the free throw line.

A telling statistic from the half was the 22-12 Georgetown lead in points in paint, as the Hoyas, who still trailed the Irish 46-44 at the buzzer, took the inside away under their own glass.

The early going of the second half saw no fewer than 13 lead changes as both in a speed game that clearly wasn’t meant for the likes of either Notre Dame freshman Luke Harangody, who stands at a behemoth 6-foot-8, 250 pounds, or Georgetown junior forward Roy Hibbert, who plays with a 7-foot-2, 278 pound frame, both of whom fouled out.

Both Rob Kurz and Luke Zeller also saw foul trouble early in the second, with three each.

A 7-0 run by the Hoyas by the fifth minute seemingly swung the game’s momentum unalterably in Georgetown’s direction until Irish freshman Tory Jackson, who had a truly memorable game, single-handedly tied the game at 76, and finishing the game with twenty points.

With thirteen seconds left in the game, Green, who would finish the night with thirty points, scored and paired the two with the foul that eliminated Harangody. He would miss the free throw, giving the Irish time and opportunity to win the game with a three.

Carter, who had been solid in the early going, had an open three opportunity but it failed to drop.

For the Irish, Colin Falls and Harangody also managed to score in double digits with 14 and 11 respectively. Falls went 4-9 from three point range, but only one of which came in the second half.

With Selection Sunday just hours away, and the Irish playing better than they have in several seasons, a game like tonight’s which would see Notre Dame not only play with Georgetown (a team that some pundits have as a #1 seed going into the NCAA Tournament) but at times clearly dominate them, Irish fans can be excused for not only being confident, but, yes, even anticipation.

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