For a long stretch of time on Wednesday night, it looked like the Irish were headed straight to the NIT. Needing at least a win tonight and possibly another to secure a spot in the NCAA Tournament, the Irish found themselves down 21 points with 15 minutes left against the 7th seeded Hokies of Virginia Tech. The Irish would come to life, however, by mounting a furious comeback that ended with the Irish advancing and living to play another day.
Notre Dame couldn’t buy a bucket over the first 25 minutes of action, but then all of a sudden, the threes starting falling. Before you knew it, the lead was under 10. As the Irish chipped away at the lead, it was a Bonzie Colson desperation three that banked off the glass that cut the Hokie lead to four that signified that this team was not done yet.
Colson started really slow in his 4th game back from injury and looked winded in the first half already. Notre Dame’s senior star, however, came to life along with the the rest of the Irish.
Before Colson’s heave though, Matt Farrell turned the game around during a stoppage in play. After an offensive foul was called on Chris Clarke, Farrell took the ball right out of his hands as Clarke argued. Clark took exception to that and shoved Farrell resulting in a technical foul. Farrell nailed both free throws and then TJ Gibbs ended up hitting another pair of free throws on the ensuing possession for a four point swing.
Farrell led the Irish with 22 points while Colson chipped in a modest – by his standards – 12. Plueger added 14 and Gibbs 13 as the Irish nearly had all five of their starters in double figures. Martinas Geben feel just two points short with an 8 point, 5 rebound night.
A loss would have all but eliminated the Irish from NCAA Tournament consideration, but the win has ESPN giving them a 72% chance at making it to the big dance. There is still work to be done however as Joel Lunardi still has the Irish as one of the last four teams out.
Second seeded Duke awaits Notre Dame in Brooklyn. The Irish and Blue Devils tip off at 7:00 PM on ESPN2. Duke handed Notre Dame it’s 7th straight loss during the Irish’s 7 game skid while Colson was out. The loss was a low point in the season as the Duke faithful chanted NIT to the Irish as Duke pulled away in the end.
A win tomorrow night would all but guarantee Notre Dame a trip to the NCAA’s. It’ll be the third game in three nights for the Irish, but if they play anything close to how they played over the final 15 minutes tonight, they might just be playing a 4th in 4 days on Friday.