While the Notre Dame Fighting Irish men’s basketball team plays its home games within the state of Indiana, the team is probably thankful that no more in-state rivals are on the 2017-18 regular season schedule. That’s because the team’s only game last week mirrored the previous week’s situation, whereby a winnable game against a Hoosier-based opponent went by the boards.
Likely the most frustrating aspect of these past two losses is that the Irish might still be residing within the Top 10 due to the fact that their only other loss was on the road against second-ranked Michigan State. Instead, a pair of losses to unranked foes, ironically both ending in the same final score, has sent Notre Dame tumbling from being the fifth-ranked team in the nation to out of the Top 25.
Notre Dame Basketball Week in Review
Facing the Indiana Hoosiers in the annual Crossroads Classic on Saturday, the Irish had countless chances to take control of the game. Ultimately, however, they saw a double-digit second half lead disappear due to breakdowns in the latter stages of both regulation and overtime, which resulted in a bitter 80-77 defeat.
Indiana held a few small leads during the first 10 minutes of action, but the Irish put together a 19-3 run to turn an 11-9 deficit into a 28-14 advantage with 5:15 left before intermission. The problem was that over that final stretch of the first half, the Hoosiers managed to use an 11-3 surge to cut the Notre Dame halftime lead to just six at 31-25.
Even though Indiana then scored the first six points of the second half, the Irish managed to build their lead back up. With just 2:01 left in regulation, they held a 65-57 lead. Unfortunately, that’s when the Hoosiers’ Juwan Morgan took over the game, scoring eight unanswered points in that remaining to tie the game and send it into overtime.
A pair of T.J. Gibbs’ free throws with 20 seconds remaining in the extra session gave Notre Dame a 77-74 lead, but Morgan returned to haunt the Irish one more time. Trying to convert a three-point play, Morgan missed his free throw attempt, but the ball caromed to another Indiana player who fed Morgan for a go-ahead dunk with eight seconds left. A Matt Farrell three-point attempt was blocked and converted into two final free throws.
Standouts of the Week
Delivering a double-double against the Hoosiers, Colson remained the centerpiece of the Notre Dame squad. The senior finished with 29 points and 11 rebounds, while also adding a pair of steals. He also continued to give the team an aggressive presence, frequently making it to the foul line and converting 11-of-13 attempts.
One of three Irish players who were on the court for over 40 minutes against Indiana, Gibbs ended the frustrating afternoon with 17 points and three rebounds. His point total aided by a trio of three-pointers, one of those coming in the first half that gave Notre Dame that aforementioned 14-point advantage.
Another solid overall game against the Hoosiers ended on a sour note with that last-second block of a three-point attempt. Farrell had connected on a pair of three-pointers earlier in the game and finished with 15 points, eight assists, four rebounds and a pair of steals. Despite that on-court versatility, the only likely image lingering in Farrell’s mind is that last effort.
Notre Dame Basketball’s Week Ahead
Prior to the ACC opener on December 30, the Irish should be able to get back on track this week with a pair of home contests. The first of those foes comes from the Ivy League in the form of the Dartmouth Big Green on Tuesday night. Two nights later, Southeastern Louisiana faces the Irish for the first time ever.
Dartmouth enters this game with a 3-5 record, having dropped three of their last four matchups. The opponents they’ve faced thus far are underwhelming, so this contest should allow Notre Dame to get back on track. The final margin shouldn’t be in doubt, with Mike Brey likely to have the chance to give his reserves some time to play.
Facing the Lions of Southeastern Louisiana shouldn’t pose much of a problem, either. They have a 6-5 record, with a game on Tuesday night. However, their schedule has been heavy with lower-level opponents from the Bayou. In short, expect an easy victory.