2018-19

Notre Dame Basketball Steals Win as 15th Seed in ACC Tournament

Picking up some early St. Patrick Day’s luck in their ACC Tournament opener on Tuesday, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish managed to hold off the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, 78-71. The victory advances the Irish to Wednesday night’s game against the seventh-seeded Louisville Cardinals, though they still face an arduous path.

Bringing their depleted roster to Charlotte and entering the tournament on the heels of a seven-game losing streak, not much was expected of Mike Brey’s squad. Their defeat at Pitt on Saturday relegated them to the last seed in the tourney, with a quick exit apparently on the horizon.

First Half

Yet Notre Dame had other plans, even though the 10th-seeded Yellow Jackets jumped out to a pair of early five-point advantage, the last at 9-4 with less than four minutes gone in the contest. From that point, the Irish outscored their foes 48-23 for the remainder of the half and held the lead for good when John Mooney’s jumper at the 12:37 mark gave Notre Dame a 17-15 lead.

Building their advantage throughout those first 20 minutes, the Irish held a 35-26 lead with 5:47 left before intermission and then cranked things into high gear. Over that span of time before heading into halftime. Notre Dame went on a 17-6 run and took a commanding 20-point lead at 52-32 into their locker room.

It was late in the first half when the injury-plagued Irish lost yet another player when freshman Nate Laszewski sustained a lower back bruise following a collision under the basket. He didn’t return and his status for the Louisville clash doesn’t look too promising.

Second Half

The loss of Laszewski removed a player who had contributed 14 points and four rebounds in 18 minutes on the court. His absence forced the Irish to cling to their lead, which the Yellow Jackets managed to chip away over the remainder of the game.

With just under 16 minutes to go, Notre Dame held their largest lead of the game at 57-36, which was when Georgia Tech began their ultimately-futile comeback. The margin was methodically reduced, though the Irish appeared to be in control after Mooney connected on jumper to make it 72-61 with 3:27 left.

What followed were eight unanswered points by the Yellow Jackets, the last two coming on three-pointers to make it 72-69 with 1:12 to play. On the next Irish possession, Mooney once again hit a clutch shot with the shot clock dwindling down, with free throws helping to seal the win away.

Notre Dame Standouts

John Mooney

The big man once again proved to be invaluable for the Irish, collecting yet another double-double on 20 points and 10 rebounds. He also added three assists, though it was his ability to withstand the pressure of a potential collapse to hit his shot from beyond the arc in the final minute.

Dane Goodwin

The freshman guard pitched in with for the shorthanded Irish by scoring 15 points and collecting five caroms off the glass. He also managed to dish out a pair of assists, with the final two of his four free throws ending the scoring on the afternoon with 17 seconds to play.

Juwan Durham

Another player who stepped up, Durham came off the miniscule bench to toss in 12 points and collect five boards. However, it was his four blocked shots that aided the Notre Dame cause, most notably when he swatted his last shot with 19 seconds to go. That led to Goodwin’s two free throws that salted the victory away.

Next Up for Notre Dame

The Irish improved to 14-18 on the year, but have no time to ponder their limited options with regard to players. They need to once again enjoy the success they had from long-range against Tech, connecting on eight three-pointers during the game.

On March 3rd, the Irish and Cardinals met, with Louisville coming away with a 75-61 victory. The Cardinals will be entering this game with a 19-12 overall record, though most of that success has come on their home court. Away from there, they’ve won just five of 11 games.

Notre Dame Basketball: Irish Limp into ACC Tournament

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish ended their regular season last Saturday beaten and battered and now face an impossible task as they prepare for what’s likely to be a cameo appearance in this week’s ACC Tournament. The Irish’s depleted roster and the fact that they enter this tourney on a seven-game losing streak hold out no hope that Mike Brey’s squad can manage to somehow win five games in five days.

What was already a limited roster became even moreso in the past week, with freshman D.J. Harvey’s hamstring injury causing him to miss the two losses and possibly the upcoming tournament. In addition, junior Nikola Djogo is done for the year because of a torn labrum in his right shoulder, which means that Notre Dame presently has just seven scholarship players available.

Notre Dame Basketball’s Week in Review

Welcoming the Clemson Tigers to Purcell Pavilion on Senior Night, the Irish watched their early 9-5 lead disappear over a five-minute span, courtesy of a 15-2 run by the Tigers. It took a while for Notre Dame to get back on track, though they were able to maintain their ground over that stretch. During the final two minutes before halftime, the Irish ran off the last seven points and headed into intermission in a 32-all deadlock.

The tightly-contested second half saw Notre Dame take a 58-54 lead with 3:58 left, thanks to TJ Gibbs’ three-pointer. Holding their final lead at 59-58 with 2:07 to go, the Irish had an opportunity to tie the game at 63 with three seconds left. Nate Laszewski connected on the firs of two free throws when Clemson decided to employ some gamesmanship. They called a timeout, with Laszewski then missing the tying attempt, which gave Clemson the 64-62 victory.

On Saturday, Notre Dame traveled to Pittsburgh for a game with the Panthers that would dubiously determine which team would end up in last place in the ACC. Indicative of the nature of the contest, it took nearly three minutes before either team scored, with the Irish taking a 13-5 leadwith just under 14 minutes left in the first half. They’d increase the lead to 12, but a 13-2 Pitt run in the final seven minutes before intermission chopped the halftime lead to one at 26-25.

The first six minutes of the second half saw each team hold the lead, but from that point, the Panthers maintained the advantage. Pitt broke a tie game with 10 unanswered points that allowed for enough of a cushion. Laszewski scored the final 11 Irish points (among his 23 on the day) to get the margin within one with 1:14 left, but Notre Dame was unable to get off a last-second attempt to send the game into overtime and instead lost 56-53.

Notre Dame Standout Players

John Mooney

Boosting his double-double total within the ACC for the year to 13 in the Clemson contest, Mooney’s 18 points and a career-high 20 rebounds put him in hallowed territory. The only ACC player to have more in a conference campaign was future Hall of Famer Tim Duncan more than two decades ago. Mooney’s performance against Pitt was more subdued with just four points, though he did haul down 13 boards.

Dane Goodwin

The only player to score in double-figures in both games, Goodwin contributed 12 points and five rebounds in the Clemson defeat. He then followed that up with 10 points and six rebounds against the Panthers, starting that contest after a 38-minute effort off the bench against the Tigers.

TJ Gibbs

The guard tossed in 22 points in the two defeats, starting off with 14 against before adding eight more at Pitt. He also chipped in on the boards with two rebounds in each clash, while his single assist against Clemson was followed up with six against the Panthers.

Notre Dame’s Basketball Week Ahead

As a result of their loss at Pitt, Notre Dame will enter the ACC Tournament in Charlotte on Tuesday as the 15th and final seed. That means that they’ll be facing the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets on Tuesday, with tip-off set for just after 2 p.m. However, the actual starting time will be roughly 30 minutes after the conclusion of the Miami and Wake Forest game.

The Irish’s matchup against the Yellow Jackets will mark the third meeting this season between the two schools. Tech won 63-61 on January 22, but Notre Dame got revenge on February 10 in a 69-59 win. Should the Irish win the rubber match, they’ll face Louisville on Wednesday.

Notre Dame Basketball Report: Irish Stumbling to Finish Line

With just one week remaining in the 2018-19 regular season for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Mike Brey’s squad continues to stumble on the way to the ACC tournament. The latest instance came on Sunday in a 75-61 road loss at Louisville, which marked their fifth consecutive loss. It also guaranteed that the Irish would enter that conference tourney with a losing overall record.

Notre Dame’s 13-16 overall mark is actually much better than their three wins in their 16 ACC matchups this season. One clear indication just how bad that mark is the fact that they enter this final week 14th among the 15 teams in this brutally competitive conference.

Notre Dame Basketball’s Week in Review

When the Irish took the court in Louisville, they were facing some steep odds in the effort to halt their losing streak. They had company in that department with the reeling Cardinals, who entered the clash having dropped their previous three games. Unfortunately, more of the same nagging issues surfaced over the course of the 40-minute matchup for Brey’s squad.

At the end of the first half, Notre Dame trailed by only five points at 29-24, a deficit that could have been much worse. That’s because the Irish ended up missing 12 of their first 15 shots and shot 31 percent from the field for the half. Meanwhile, the Irish’s defensive breakdowns allowed for a number of open three-pointers by the Cardinals, which were thankfully missed by the hosts.

Over the course of the second half, Notre Dame found their shooting touch by connecting on 48 percent of their shots. The problem was that Louisville was able to shut them down when it was needed, which meant that the Irish were never able to get closer than four points for the remainder of the game.

With just under 13 minutes left in the contest, a three-pointer by John Mooney reduced the Notre Dame deficit to six at 50-44. That would essentially be their best shot as the Cardinals scored 10 of the next 12 points. Another surge by the Irish got them within nine, only to watch Louisville put the game away with a 13-3 run.

Notre Dame Standout Players

John Mooney

Delivering a game-high 22 points against Louisville, Mooney once again paced the Irish like he’s been doing all season long. Another aspect in that performance that also continued a season-long trend was his 13 rebounds on the afternoon, giving him yet another double-double for the year. For good measure, he tacked on a trio of assists and also showed his defensive prowess with three steals.

Prentiss Hubb

The freshman has had an inconsistent season, but came forth against the Cardinals with his 12th double-digit scoring performance by collecting 16 points. He led the Irish from beyond the arc by draining four three-pointers and also paced the team when it came to ballhandling, handing out six assists. His defense also resulted in a pair of steals.

TJ Gibbs

Gibbs was able to bounce back after a miserable game at Florida State on Monday night, scoring 11 points and dishing out a pair of assists. That four-point performance against the Seminoles stopped a four-game stretch in which he had averaged just under 20 points per game, so Gibbs’ contributions down the stretch will be badly needed in order to have any hope of extending the season.

Notre Dame Basketball’s Week Ahead

The final home game of the season takes place on Wednesday night, when Notre Dame hosts the Clemson Tigers. The Irish have won five of the six meetings of a series that only began after Notre Dame joined the ACC. Last season marked the first time that Clemson had come away with a victory, winning 67-58 on their home court. The Tigers enter the week with a 17-12 overall mark and a 7-9 record within the conference.

The regular season finale takes place on the road against the Pitt Panthers, the lone team with a worse conference mark than the Irish at 2-14. This rivalry dates back decades, with Notre Dame having won the last three battles, the last of which came in the first round of last year’s ACC tournament.

While wins in both games are certainly possible, wins in at least one of the contests is an absolute necessity. The Irish need some sort of momentum as they enter the conference tourney that gets underway on March 12 in Charlotte.

Notre Dame Basketball Report: 0-3 Week Has Irish Playing for the Future

Three more losses to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish’s won-loss ledger last week now puts them under .500 for the year with an overall mark of 13-15 and an ACC mark of 3-12. That overall record is especially notable since it marks only the second time during Mike Brey’s lengthy tenure that the team has had a losing overall record.

That previous time came five seasons ago, when the team had its only other losing season in Brey’s 19 years at the helm. That’s not a good omen for the final three games of the regular season, with some stiff challenges still remaining and what would be an arduous road in the conference tourney.

Notre Dame Basketball’s Week in Review

Last Tuesday night, the Wake Forest Demon Deacons faced the Irish and came away with a 75-68 victory. A cold spell in the final 3:43 before intermission saw the Irish miss their last five field goal attempts and take a slim 36-35 lead into halftime. Each team continued to trade leads after the break, with a 23-10 Wake run indicative of Notre Dame’s inability to put the ball in the basket. The Irish did make one final surge to tie the game at 66, but a 9-2 run in the final three minutes by the Demon Deacons sealed the defeat.

Hoping to get some payback against Virginia Tech was the plan going into Saturday’s game, but that concept fell apart early. That’s because four turnovers and making just one of their first 10 shots from the field put the Irish in a hole. That meant that they spent the rest of the game making a comeback that proved futile.

Holding a 49-27 advantage in that area, Tech’s 18 boards on the offensive glass matched the Notre Dame output on the defensive side of that category. That proved to be deadly in the second half, when second-chance opportunities allowed the Hokies to hold off a last-ditch bid by the Irish.

In Tallahassee on Monday night, the Irish and Florida State Seminoles traded leads for most of the first six minutes. Notre Dame then put together a 22-11 run to take a 27-17 advantage with 6:21 left before intermission. That jolt woke up the Seminoles, who began a 16-6 run to tie the game at 33 at the half.

Coming out strong after the break, the Irish began a 12-4 run in the first four minutes to take an eight-point lead. They’d hold that advantage until the final seven minutes, but stayed close enough to still maintain hopes of an upset. That didn’t come to pass and the Seminoles came away with the 68-62 victory.

Notre Dame Standout Players

TJ Gibbs

Gibbs led the Irish on the week in scoring with 45 points, tossing in 23 in the loss to Wake Forest before tacking on 18 more against Virginia Tech. However, his two performances were distinctly different as he scored the bulk of his points in the first contest during the first half and hit on eight of his 12 shots from the the field. That touch deserted him against the Hokies as he made just five of his 17 attempts. His offense was again stymied at Florida State with just four points, though he did manage to hand out five assists and pick up four of Notre Dame’s 10 steals in the contest.

John Mooney

Mooney came close to three more double-doubles, but ended up only picking up one for the week. In the game against Wake, his 16 points were aided by a pair of three-pointers, with nine boards and a pair of assists also part of his night. In the Tech contest, he contributed 12 points and managed to corral 10 rebounds, the latter being an area where Notre Dame struggled all afternoon. Foul trouble at Florida State limited his effectiveness in the first half, but he did finish with 14 points, eight boards and three steals.

D.J. Harvey

The offensive woes for the Irish on the week were such that Harvey made this group despite barely breaking double-figures in the last of the three games. His nine points against the Demon Deacons were followed by seven points and four rebounds in the loss to the Hokies, with the guard hitting just six of his 17 shots from the field. He did manage to pace the Irish offense against Florida State with 18 points and also grabbed a pair of rebounds.

Notre Dame Basketball’s Week Ahead

On Sunday afternoon, a matchup against the Louisville Cardinals is on the agenda, with the Irish having dropped their last two meetings in this conference tilt. Last year’s defeat was especially agonizing, coming in an 82-79 double overtime loss.

Notre Dame Basketball Report: Irish Still Scuffling with Lightened Schedule

Winning ugly might not be the most aesthetic way to enter the win column but the Notre Dame Fighting Irish will take any victory in any fashion at this point. They ended up getting one that way to close out another 1-1 week. The win kept them from becoming a .500 team and gives them a 13-11 overall mark. At the same time, it improves their ACC record to 3-8 on the year.

Given the vicious dogfight at the top of the conference, Notre Dame’s postseason hopes have presumably been scaled back from an NCAA bid to more modest opportunities. Of course, maintaining a winning record is paramount to making that happen, which might be a challenge with some difficult opponents on the horizon.

Notre Dame Basketball’s Week in Review

A February trip to South Florida sounds great, yet the Irish were on the receiving end of a cold slap in their 62-47 loss to the Miami Hurricanes on Wednesday night. Notre Dame managed to get off to a fast start by taking an 11-2 lead in the first three minutes. That proved to be the lone Irish highlight as the tenacious Hurricane defense put a lid on the basket the rest of the way. It resulted in a season-low scoring output for Mike Brey’s squad.

Miami tied the game at 13 and took the lead for good with just over three minutes left in the half. In between, Notre Dame managed to score only two points in the final 5:48 before halftime to trail 28-23 at intermission. A run late in that half by the Hurricanes continued after the break and resulted in the Irish staring at a 51-33 deficit. The ice-cold shooting by Notre Dame was most notably spotlighted by their 4-for-28 performance on three-point attempts.

In a rare Sunday night home game. The frigid shooting experienced by the Irish four nights earlier was still in evidence for much of the first half as they missed 23 of their first 27 attempts from the field. Georgia Tech wasn’t much better, which helped keep the game close. When Notre Dame finally found the range, they were able to walk off the court at intermission trailing by just a single point at 25-24.

The second half saw the Irish use a pair of runs to salt away the badly-needed win. The first came after the Yellow Jackets had drilled a three-pointer in the opening minute to take a four-point lead. That sparked a 17-7 surge by the Irish over the next eight minutes for a 41-35 advantage. In the latter case, a 13-5 run gave them a 58-47 lead, which served as a strong cushion down the stretch. The 69-59 win saw Notre Dame hit on just 33 percent of their shots from the field.

Notre Dame Standout Players

D.J. Harvey

Leading the Irish in scoring on the week, Harvey led what amounted to the Notre Dame offense in the loss at Miami, scoring 14 points and grabbing a pair of rebounds. He followed that up with a strong effort in the Georgia Tech win by scoring 18 points and coming close to a double-double with eight boards.

John Mooney

Held to 11 points against the Hurricanes, Mooney also watched his streak of double-double performances come to and with just six rebounds in the loss. However, he bounced back into that category by contributing 11 points and 14 rebounds in a winning cause. For the year, Mooney now had 15 double-doubles to his credit.

TJ Gibbs

Rounding out the trio, Gibbs’ effort in Miami was a microcosm of the entire night for the Irish, scoring just two points on 1-of-9 from the field. However, after scoring just two points in the first half on Sunday night, he erupted for 18 after the break and played a key role in the Georgia Tech win.

Notre Dame Basketball’s Week Ahead

The Irish have only one game on this week’s schedule, but that added practice time doesn’t offer any positive vibes. That’s because they have to face Virginia on the Cavaliers’ home court. Back on January 26, the Cavaliers scored the first 12 points of the game and ended up coasting to an easy 82-55 win.

The only microscopic hope Notre Dame might have to pull off what would be a huge upset would be the fact that Virginia might be inclined to look past them. That’s because the Cavaliers will be coming off contests against Top-10 conference foes Duke and North Carolina, with memories of their rout of the Irish no doubt still in their memory bank. Of course, grasping at such straws at this point might be all Brey’s squad has going for them entering the final weeks.

Notre Dame Basketball Report: Irish Schedule Lightens This Week

Applying a tourniquet to at least briefly stop the bleeding of this hemorrhaging 2018-19 season, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish split their two games last week to keep them above .500 overall at 12-10. The problem remains that the path to rising with the highly-competitive ACC remains a stiff challenge, with the Irish currently saddled with a 2-7 conference mark.

Notre Dame has nine games left in the ACC to make a run, but has to deal with the reality of playing five of those contests on the road. While their one win last week came in that fashion, the caliber of the opponent in three of those games away from home will offer a much stiffer challenge to a team that’s lacking in depth.

Notre Dame Basketball’s Week in Review

Last Monday, the Irish were facing their second highly-ranked team in three days, with the results much the same as the previous outing. That’s because the second-ranked Duke Blue Devils came to Purcell Pavilion and had little trouble in dispatching Notre Dame by a score of 83-61, helping to send the Irish to their fifth consecutive defeat.

The tone was set immediately as Duke scored 17 of the first 19 points and then held a lead of 26-7 midway through the first half. In what amounted to their lone challenge of the night, the Irish then outscored the Blue Devils 16-6 to get the margin under double-digits. That surge was short-lived, however, as Duke quickly ran off 10 unanswered points and took a 46-28 lead nto the half. Notre Dame would get no closer than 16 points after the break.

The unlikely presence of Nikola Djogo in the starting lineup made all the difference in the world as the Irish entered the win column with a tight 79-73 road victory over the Boston College Eagles on Saturday afternoon. Djogo had been averaging eight minutes a game prior to the starting call, but ended up scoring 21 points in 36 minutes on the court, which included a key basket in the closing moments. He entered the game having scored just 29 points all season long.

During the first half, Notre Dame experienced some ups and downs, taking an early seven-point lead before BC sliced the margin to one at 20-19 with just under seven minutes left before halftime. The Irish answered with an 11-2 run to take their biggest lead of the half and headed into intermission holding a 36-31 advantage.

Both teams held leads after the break before two free throws from Djogo with 7:58 to play gave Notre Dame the lead for good at 60-58. However, the Eagles stayed close and even got the margin down to four points with 13 seconds left after it appeared that the win had been salted away. It finally was after TJ Gibbs hit a pair of free throws with 11 seconds remaining.

Notre Dame Standouts of the Week

TJ Gibbs

Leading the scoring parade for the week, Gibbs tallied 31 points and gave the Irish a defensive presence with six steals over the course of the matchups. He scored 12 points in the loss to Duke and appeared in danger of not even reaching that number after scoring just two points during the first half against BC. However, he unleashed a 17-point barrage after the break and ended up clinching the game at the foul line.

Prentiss Hubb

The freshman guard managed to reach double-figures in both contests, scoring 13 points against the Blue Devils before delivering a 16-point effort in the win over the Eagles. He also found time to dish out six assists and collect five boards in the two matchups and was effective from long-range by connecting on five of his 12 attempts from beyond the arc.

John Mooney

The big man continued his double-double onslaught with a 14-point, 11-rebound performance against Duke preceding his 15-point, 13-board effort against Boston College. In all but one of the nine conference games thus far, he’s reached double-double country, with only a nine-point afternoon against Virginia Tech keeping him from making it a clean sweep.

Notre Dame Basketball’s Week Ahead

Hoping to sustain momentum, the Irish have two matchups this week beginning with a Wednesday night game at Miami. The Hurricanes have a 4-3 edge in the series since the Irish joined the ACC, though Notre Dame won the last time they traveled to South Beach, winning 67-62 on January 12, 2017.

Revenge will be on the minds of the Irish when Georgia Tech comes to Purcell Pavilion on Saturday night. The Yellow Jackets won a close 63-61 contest on January 22, though they’ve yet to win in five tries there since the two teams became conference rivals.

Notre Dame Basketball Report: Irish Looking to Salvage Season

The frustrating beat went on for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in their two contests last week, coming up short in both instances. That now gives them an 11-9 overall record on the year, with just one ACC victory to their credit in seven tries. Those struggles within the conference don’t bode well for the remainder of the campaign, which has 11 more ACC dates still remaining.

Besides a lack of depth and overall experience on the depleted roster, Mike Brey’s squad was plagued with inconsistent performances last week. John Mooney’s performances were a sharp contrast to that assessment, though finding a way to establish a winning requires more than a reliance on a single player.

Notre Dame Basketball’s Week in Review

Facing the Yellow Jackets of Georgia Tech, the Irish were plagued throughout the game with weak shooting from the field, ending the game by hitting on just 32 percent of their attempts from the field. That put them behind for most of the first half, but in the final six minutes before intermission, Notre Dame managed to put together a 16-8 run to take a 30-28 lead into halftime. Freshman Nate Laszewski’s eight points in just over a minute was the spark that got the Irish within a point, while John ooney’s two free throws gave them their first lead.

Notre Dame was seemingly done with five minutes left in the game after Tech took a 58-47 lead, but a furious comeback ensued before coming up just short. The Irish twice had opportunities to either tie the game or take the lead, but a put-back with 52 seconds left served as the back-breakers. That was followed by two Yellow Jacket free throws with eight seconds to play that sent Notre Dame to the 63-61 defeat.

Facing the third-ranked Virginia Cavaliers on Saturday, the Irish never once held the lead and weren’t even able to put points on the board until more than six minutes had passed in the first half. By that time, Virginia was holding a 12-0 advantage and progressively built up their lead throughout the contest, allowing them to coast to an 82-55 win.

Notre Dame was adorned in green jerseys for the game, but any luck for the Irish never arrived. During the course of the first half, the Cavaliers led by as many as 20 points before taking a 42-25 lead into the halftime locker room. Once play resumed, the margin remained in double-digits, though Notre Dame did manage to make it a 54-42 contest with 13:32 left. However, being held scoreless for nearly five minutes ended any hopes of a dramatic comeback.

Notre Dame Standouts of the Week

John Mooney

Without the contributions of Mooney, the course of this season would be much worse than it already is, with the big man once again delivering a pair of double-double efforts. At Georgia Tech, he did a little bit of everything by tossing in 22 points, grabbing 14 rebounds, while dishing out a pair of assists, collecting two steals and also swatting away a pair of Yellow Jacket shots. In the Virginia rout, he provided 15 points and 10 boards to the Irish cause.

Nate Laszewski

The freshman offered up two completely distinctly different performances, though because of the minimal contributions of other teammates, he makes this week’s list. His effort at Georgia Tech nearly helped Notre Dame come away with the win, scoring 19 points and six rebounds. However, he only managed to score three points and haul down three rebounds in the loss to Virginia/

T.J. Gibbs

The guard was more consistent, though his lack of scoring punch only contributed 16 points for the Irish. His seven points, five boards and two assists against Tech were then followed by nine points and a pair of assists in the Virginia defeat. A key facet of his scoring woes was his 6-for-23 performance from the field.

Notre Dame Basketball’s Week Ahead

The Irish will stay at home for their first game of the week, but it will be against the second-ranked Duke Blue Devils. Notre Dame hasn’t had much luck in this series, with Duke holding a 24-7 all-time edge. More recently, the Blue Devils have won the last four meetings, including a pair of ACC tournament battles. That streak began with their last trip to Purcell Pavilion two years ago, an 84-74 victory.

On Saturday, the Irish travels to face the Boston College Eagles and hope to continue the success they’ve had in this series. Notre Dame is undefeated in this matchup since joining the ACC and has won 16 of the last 17 contests. That includes the previous 12 meetings, five of which have taken place at Chestnut Hill.

Notre Dame Basketball Report: Young Irish Growing in Defeat

Struggling remains the operative word for the 2018-19 edition of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish as they dropped both games last week to fall to 11-7 and 1-4 within the rough ACC. What’s especially painful for Mike Brey’s squad is that both games were again winnable contests, but saw the Irish unable to avoid the cold from a field goal perspective.

A total of 13 more conference games remain on the Notre Dame regular season schedule, but the opportunity to reverse the course of this rebuilding campaign is continuing to dwindle. The task won’t get any easier considering the conference has six ranked teams that are already three games ahead of the Irish:

Notre Dame Basketball’s Week in Review

What would have been a huge road win faded away on the strength of a late run by the North Carolina Tar Heels that saw them begin a 12-1 surge that put the game away. North Carolina appeared to have a hangover from getting routed on their home court just three days earlier against Louisville, which helped the Irish head into halftime holding a 36-33 advantage. That lead came courtesy of an 11-3 push in the final 2:07 of the half.

With the two teams trading leads during the first 13 minutes after the break, Notre Dame took their final lead at 58-57 with 6:52 to go on a layup by Prentiss Hubb. The Tar Heels then held the Irish without a field goal until Hubb broke the cold spell with just 1:15 left. That reduced the deficit to eight points, but Notre Dame ran out of time. While the Irish did welcome back T.J. Gibbs, though it was clear he still wasn’t completely recovered from his illness as he scored just five points and missed eight of his nine attempts from the field.

Returning home for a Saturday afternoon contest against the 17th-ranked North Carolina State Wolfpack, the same old song was heard as the Irish were unable to sustain solid second half play and dropped a 77-73 decision. Both teams were coming off tough Tuesday night losses, but Notre Dame went cold after getting within one with 8:26 left. That killed their momentum and sent them to their fourth conference loss in five games.

The Irish only trailed by two at halftime, 37-35, thanks to a late 10-2 push that was capped by T.J. Gibbs’ three-pointer with 58 seconds left before intermission. Prior to that, North Carolina State appeared to have taken control after breaking a 19-all deadlock and going on their own 14-6 run over a five-minute span.

Notre Dame Standouts of the Week

John Mooney

Continuing to serve as the most consistent and productive player on the Irish team, Mooney had a pair of performances that especially emphasized his dominance on the glass. At Chapel Hill, he contributed 16 points and grabbed a whopping 19 rebounds, while also slapping away four North Carolina shots. Back home against the Wolfpack, the point and rebound totals were reversed with 19 points and 16 boards, with a pair of blocks to his credit.

Prentiss Hubb

The freshman did most of his damage against North Carolina, tossing in 18 points while dishing out six assists and picking up a trio of missed shots. A quieter performance followed five days later, scoring eight, picking up four rebounds and handing out a pair of assists against North Carolina State.

D.J. Harvey

The guard scored in double-figures in both games last week, starting off with a 15-point, two-rebound effort against the Tar Heels. Against the Wolfpack, he was one of four Irish players to reach the double-figure category, scoring 10 points and grabbing another five rebounds.

Notre Dame Basketball’s Week Ahead

The Irish head to Atlanta for a Tuesday night game against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, a team they have a 6-4 edge against since joining the ACC. The problem is that almost all of that success has come at Purcell Pavillion, with Notre Dame having dropped four of their five games on Tech’s home court, including the last three matchups. The Yellow Jackets are coming a home loss to Louisville in which they were missing two of their top three scorers.

Coming back home sounds good for the Irish fortunes until the realization that their opponent on Saturday will be the Virginia Cavaliers. They entered last Saturday’s road clash at top-ranked Duke as the fourth-best team in the nation and came close to toppling the Blue Devils before losing, 72-70. Since their arrival into the conference, Notre Dame has gone winless in six tries against the Cavaliers, their lone victory coming in a 2017 conference tournament game.

Notre Dame Basketball Highlights: Young Irish Upset Bid Falls Short

Notre Dame vs. North Carolina: Coby White scored 17 points and Nassir Little added 11 points in the second half as the No. 13 Tar Heels held off Notre Dame, 75-69.  John Mooney scored 16 points and pulled down 19 rebounds for the Fighting Irish in the loss.  The young Fighting Irish led this one at half time and hung with the more talented Tar Heels for much of the game, but inexperience kicked in down the stretch as the Irish faded.

Despite the loss, it was encouraging to see Notre Dame’s young roster hang with the 12th ranked Tar Heels until the end as they show signs of a promising future.  TJ Gibbs played at less than 100 percent after being sick and missing Saturday’s win over Boston College.  The effects of that illness showed as Gibbs hit just 1 of 9 shots on the night.  He still managed to gut out 35 minutes though.

Notre Dame returns to action on Saturday back on their home court against another top 25 opponent – #17 NC State.  Tip Off is set for 2:00 with the game being broadcast on the ACC Network.

Notre Dame Basketball Report: Irish Prepare for Pair of Top 25 Foes

Winning in the ACC can be a difficult proposition for any team, with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish finally collecting their first victory of the season in that category on Saturday. That win wasn’t without some late drama, though getting over that hurdle was an absolute necessity with more challenges facing Mike Brey and his squad during the final 15 conference games.

Notre Dame Basketball’s Week in Review

The 69-66 victory over the Boston College Eagles gave the Irish a 1-2 mark in conference action and 11-5 overall, while BC dropped to 9-6 on the year and are still looking for their first ACC win. One key absence for already-depleted Notre Dame in this matchup was guard T.J Gibbs, who came down with an illness shortly before the game began. Having just six scholarship players available, including three freshman starters, fatigue nearly cost them the win.

The first half of the Irish-Eagles clash saw most of the first seven minutes serving as a back-and-forth volley of tightly-played ball. After Boston College managed to take a 12-9 lead with five straight points in 29 seconds, it was Notre Dame that answered back with 10 unanswered points to take a seven-point lead.

Neither team was especially sharp at the outset for the noontime start, especially when it came to shooting from beyond the arc. In that department, the two teams each managed to only hit a trio of long-range shots among their 27 attempts for a 22 percent success rate. When halftime arrived, the Irish held a 31-25 advantage.

Once the game resumed, BC got the margin down to three points at 36-33 during the opening two minutes, However, Notre Dame roared back with a 13-2 surge in less than four minutes to take their biggest lead at 49-35 with 14:38 to go in the contest. That was followed by the margin being chopped back down to four before the Irish bumped it back into double-digits with 8:18 left at 58-47 on a Dane Goodwin layup.

That led to a nerve-wracking conclusion that began when the Eagles embarked on a 19-7 run that gave them a 66-65 lead with just 15 seconds left. After D.J. Harvey missed a jumper, the luck of the Irish resulted in a quick BC turnover that gave Notre Dame the ball back with eight seconds left. Prentiss Hubb was then fouled and made both free throws to give the Irish the lead for good, with a desperation toss also resulting in the final two points at the line, these coming from Goodwin.

Notre Dame Standouts of the Week

John Mooney

Finishing with 27 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks on the afternoon, Mooney again was a vital cog in the Irish victory since Juwan Durham was unavailable because of an injured ankle. He closed out the first 20 minutes with 10 points and six boards, then kicked it up a notch on the scoring front after intermission.

Prentiss Hubb

Hubb managed to replace Gibbs on the day by effectively handling different facets by closing his performance with 16 points, hauling down six rebounds, dishing five assists and also applying some defense with three steals. While he finished the game with four three-pointers, the most important of those 16 points were the final two that came at the line. With the game in the balance, he calmly sank both ends to give the Irish the lead after drawing a foul on a drive to the basket.

Nick Laszewski

The big freshman made the most of his first start, even if his shooting touch was off, making just two of his 12 shots from the field. Still, his eight points and 10 rebounds were badly needed on a team that was achingly short of players, with the near double-double a step forward in his development.

Notre Dame Basketball’s Week Ahead

The upcoming week will see the Irish tackle the difficult task of battling a pair of Top 25 teams. Tuesday night’s road foe, the 13th-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels, are licking their wounds after getting drilled at home on Saturday by Louisville, 82-62, to fall to 12-4 on the year overall and 2-1 in the ACC. This series has long been dominated by the Tar Heels, who hold a 23-6 advantage in the all-time matchup and have won last five meetings, two of which have taken place in the postseason.

Saturday, Notre Dame returns to Purcell Pavilion for a daytime clash against the 17th-ranked North Carolina State Wolfpack, which brings a 14-2 overall and 2-1 record into the week. The Wolfpack travel to face Wake Forest on Tuesday night before facing the Irish, who have won the last two battles between the two schools.

Notre Dame Basketball Report: Rough Start for Irish in ACC Play

The start of 2019 and ACC play has been anything but happy for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on the court as they lost the first two of 18 conference matchups last week. That drops their overall record to 10-5 on the year and has them still searching for their first ACC victory, which Mike Brey is hoping isn’t a road map for the rest of the regular season.

In each of last week’s contests, Notre Dame had opportunities to pick up a win, but ultimately couldn’t sustain enough momentum over the course of the game. The hope is that the departure of veteran leadership from last year and the loss of Rex Pflueger can be overcome before the campaign gets desperate and ultimately lost.

Notre Dame Basketball’s Week in Review

Opening up the new year in Blacksburg, VA, the Irish had problems during the opening half just maintaining possession, ending the first 20 minutes with nine turnovers. Predictably, that put Notre Dame in a hole as Tech pushed their lead into double-digits with a 28-15 advantage, However, a 13-2 run by the Irish closed to gap to just two by the half at 30-28.

Once play resumed, the Notre Dame defense fell apart as Tech was on fire from the field, connecting on 71 percent of their attempts. While that would have been bad enough, the Hokies were even deadlier from beyond the arc by making all but one of their nine three-point attempts. That scoring touch became most evident during a 28-11 run that helped seal the 81-66 Tech win.

Four days later, the Irish returned to Purcell Pavilion, but the result was the same, with the Syracuse Orangemen coming away with the 72-62 victory. Early on, Notre Dame was in sync, taking a 20-10 during the first seven minutes of action. That changed over the next five minutes, with a 12-3 Syracuse run giving them the 23-22 lead before each team traded baskets until intermission.

Disaster hit in the first four minutes of the second half when the Orangemen ran off the first nine points and never trailed again. The Irish immediately answered back with a 9-2 run, but each time they put themselves in position to take back the lead, Syracuse pushed the lead back up. With 6:17 to play, the Orangemen led 60-58 and proceeded to clinch the game with a 10-1 surge over the next five minutes.

Notre Dame Standouts of the Week

T.J. Gibbs

The most consistent performer for the Irish on the week, Gibbs connected for most of his 37 points in the two games by long-distance. Against Virginia Tech, he finished with 19 points and four assists, draining five three-pointers during his time on the court. He managed to top the latter twp numbers against Syracuse, when all 18 of his points came on threes, while he handed out five assists.

D.J. Harvey

The only other Irish player to scoring double-figures in both games was Harvey, who tallied a combined 27 points and grabbed a total of nine boards off the glass. The more impressive performance came at Virginia Tech, when he finished with 16 points and seven rebounds. Four days later, a quieter effort of 11 points and two rebounds weren’t enough.

John Mooney

Mooney’s main contributions to start off 2019 came in the paint, grabbing a total of 24 rebounds in the two defeats and coming close to a pair of double-doubles. At Tech, his nine points and 10 rebounds came up short, as did a 14-point, 14-rebound effort at home against Syracuse.

Notre Dame Basketball’s Week Ahead

The Irish will have a full week to absorb their early losses and find ways to get back in the win column. They’ll have the benefit of being able to stay within the confines of Purcell Pavillion when they host the Boston College Eagles in an early game on Saturday. The Eagles also dropped their ACC opener to Virginia Tech and will be coming off another severe challenge prior to facing Notre Dame. That’s because they host fourth-ranked Virginia on Tuesday night.

Since there aren’t presently too many things on the side of the Irish right now, Brey and his team are hoping that history will be one of them. That’s because the Irish have won 15 of the last 16 meetings against BC, including the last 11 in a row. Under the ACC banner, Notre Dame has an unblemished record in this series, while the overall numbers show the Irish holding a 21-10 lead.

Notre Dame Basketball Report: Challenges Await Irish in 2019

Notre Dame freshman guard Dane Goodwin

Closing out the 2018 portion of their schedule with a win, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish now begin the new year with a 10-3 record. While the record looks impressive, Mike Brey’s revamped squad has yet to tackle the string of challenges that now await them as they begin play in the always-rugged ACC.

For one thing, Notre Dame played 10 home games during the non-conference portion of their schedule, a luxury they no longer have against conference foes. The road ahead will also have to be traveled without an experienced hand like Rex Pflueger, who was lost for the season with an ACL injury two weeks ago.

Notre Dame Basketball’s Week in Review

Last week, the Irish had just one game on their docket and given the way they played for a good portion of the contest, they appeared to be looking ahead to ACC opponents. That was a mistake that was thankfully addressed before what would have been a humiliating loss became a reality.

Notre Dame jumped out to a 25-13 lead over the 0-14 Coppin State Eagles, appearing to be on their way to a comfortable victory. That mindset abruptly changed in the final seven minutes of the opening half when the Eagles closed with a 14-4 surge, making it a tight 29-27 clash in favor of the Irish.

With Coppin State making their comeback, it was Notre Dame that looked like the winless squad, making just one of the last six shots of the half from the field and committing four turnovers. Things didn’t get any better once play resumed after the break, with the Irish’s ice-cold shooting putting them in a position where they trailed 47-38 with just under 10 minutes to play.

Alarms were loud enough for the Irish to hear them at that point, which resulted in a 21-4 run and a 25-9 surge to close out the game. Yet this game will likely go into the file-and-forget category for Notre Dame, given their 28 percent shooting from the field in the second half and because they were out-rebounded during the game by a 47-38 count.

Notre Dame Standouts of the Week

T.J. Gibbs

Leading the Notre Dame offense with 15 points against the Eagles, Gibbs also dished out five assists and was one of the central aspects of the second half comeback. He did knock down a trio of three-pointers, though his shooting was a game-long struggle, connecting on just four of his 16 shots from the field. That touch is something that Gibbs needs to improve on with ACC play now on the table, considering he has a season field goal shooting average of just 35 percent.

John Mooney

Mooney did a little bit of everything against Coppin State, though he also had some issues putting the ball in the basket. he finished the game with 14 points and eight boards, while handing out three assists and also picking up a pair of steals. However, his 4-of-14 shooting from the field was in sharp contrast to his 17-of-24 contributions in that category during the previous three contests.

Dane Goodwin

The freshman continues to make his mark and could be a huge asset as the Irish seek to replace Pflueger. Goodwin ended his day with 13 points and six rebounds, the third time in th last four games that he’s scored in double-figures. In addition, he drained a pair of threes for the second game in a row, which could b a positive precursor for what lies ahead.

Notre Dame Basketball’s Week Ahead

The Irish don’t waste any time in playing their first game of 2019, which takes place on the road on New Year’s Day against the 10th-ranked Virginia Tech Hokies. In the first of 18 straight games against ACC opponents, Notre Dame will be facing a Tech squad that they’ve beaten eight out of the last nine times. However, the Hokies will be looking for revenge after watching the Irish defeat them in last year’s conference tourney with an incredible comeback, when Notre Dame won by a score of 71-65.

On Saturday, the Syracuse Orangemen come to South Bend holding a 26-14 edge in a series that dates back to 1985. On the Irish home court, Jim Boeheim’s unit holds a 12-6 advantage, with the two teams taking turns in the last six battles at Purcell Pavillion. Two years ago, Notre Dame won by a score of 84-66.

Notre Dame Basketball Report: Irish Cruise Into the Holidays

Notre Dame guard TJ Gibbs

Two more victories last week for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish now gives them a 9-3 record as they prepare for their final non-conference clash before ACC play begins. The pair of wins delivered contrasting performances, with the first victory presenting more of a challenge. That was likely due to the news of Rex Pflueger’s season-ending ACL injury just one day earlier.

Being without his senior presence for the remainder of the campaign will be difficult, especially when the level of competition picks up in just a few weeks, For the time being, getting adjusted to the new reality should be manageable because the Irish won’t have to leave the comfortable surroundings of Purcell Pavilion.

Notre Dame Basketball’s Week in Review

The pall that was cast once Pflueger’s fate became known was compounded early on by Notre Dame’ struggle in dealing with Binghamton’s zone defense that allowed the visitors to score the first seven points of the contest. In the latter instance, the end result was a weak shooting performance from the field that saw Mike Brey’s squad hit on just 26 percent of their attempts. From beyond the arc, those numbers barely hit 23 percent, with the Irish managing to hit on just three of their 13 attempts, holding a 25-21 lead at the break.

That effort was a wake-up call because Notre Dame roared out of the gates to start off the second half, going on a 16-4 run to take a 16-point lead. The Irish held their largest lead at 49-31, though the Bearcats went on a 23-12 surge to make it 61-54 in favor of Notre Dame with 1:54 left. Twisting some defensive screws down the stretch allowed the Irish to emerge with a 69-56 victory.

Just 48 hours later, Notre Dame’s shooting touch was never an issue as they rolled to a 100-74 win over Jacksonville. This first-ever meeting between the two schools ended with the Irish shooting 60 percent from the field, knocking down 18 three-pointers. That success was bolstered by a season-high 24 assists.

During the first half, Notre Dame raced out to a 57-43 lead, then continued to build up that lead after the break. Holding a 74-56 lead, the Irish ended any hint of a comeback by scoring 13 unanswered points to take their largest lead of the game. One of the major positives derived from this game was the 39 points delivered from Notre Dame’s reserves.

Notre Dame Standouts of the Week

T.J. Gibbs

Leading the scoring parade for the week, Gibbs contributed 34 points, nine assists and four rebounds and also collected a pair of steals in the rout of Jacksonville. He was also sharp in the area of long-range shooting, drilling home a trio of three-pointers against Binghamton before then draining four two nights later.

John Mooney

As the only other Notre Dame player to score in double-figures in both of last week’s games, Mooney continued his strong early season performance. In the Binghamton clash, he notched his sixth double-double of the season by tossing in 12 points and hauling down 12 boards, while also swatting away a pair of shots. Against Jacksonville, the key numbers were 16 points and seven rebounds on the night.

D.J. Harvey

Following a fairly quiet effort against Binghamton, which saw him score nine points and grab five rebounds, Harvey bounced back to lead the Irish in scoring with 19 points, cleaning the glass for five board and also dishing out three assists, That latter scoring push was aided by his shooting from beyond the arc, when he matched Gibbs with four three-pointers.

Notre Dame Basketball’s Week Ahead

Notre Dame will be well-rested when they take on the Coppin St. Eagles on Dec. 29, though it’s unlikely their visitors will offer too much of a challenge. That’s because they’re still looking for their first win of the season, having dropped their first 14 attempts. The most recent of those defeats came on Sunday, when they were pounded by the Houston Cougars.

One indication of how weak the Eagles are this season is the fact that none of those 14 losses have been by less than nine points, with the 97-40 defeat at Virginia on November 16 being the worst of that forgettable bunch. This contest will be only the second time the two schools have met, the last one coming four years ago, when Notre Dame coasted to a 104-67 win on November 19, 2014.

Notre Dame Basketball Report: Irish Improving But Lose Vital Cog

Just three games remain on the schedule for the 2018 portion of Notre Dame’s basketball season, with the results largely delivering what was expected. A 7-3 start for a team that’s been forced to replace major portions of their lineup at least holds the hope that the growing pains that are part of this rebuilding campaign have diminished.

The Irish had just one game on the schedule last week, but it was something of a milestone since they were able to win away from South Bend after dropping their first two efforts. In each of those earlier efforts, fades down the stretch were costly, something that was avoided in their victory in the annual Crossroads Classic.

Notre Dame Basketball’s Week in Review

That clash against the Purdue Boilermakers wasn’t necessarily in unfriendly territory given the neutral Indianapolis locale. However, the need to win away from the rabid fans at Purcell Pavillion needed an official starting point and was accomplished in the 88-80 win on Saturday afternoon. However, the win ended up coming with a devastating price attached to that final score.

The reason is because the year for senior Rex Pflueger came to an abrupt end after he left the game with 5:36 left in the game following an awkward landing near the basket. The concern for the Notre Dame faithful ramped up even more when Pflueger immediately grabbed his knee in pain and had to be helped off the court, with a season-ending ACL tear becoming the ultimate diagnosis.

Pflueger had contributed seven points and served as the key playmaker by dishing out 10 assists prior to his departure. During the first half, the Irish applied the clamps to Purdue’s offense by holding them to 33 percent shooting from the field and 29 points on the scoreboard. Taking a 36-29 lead into halftime, Notre Dame maintained control of the game with a balanced scoring attack and with Pflueger handing out seven of his assists.

Coming out of the break, the Irish were able to hold onto the lead, never allowing it to get under four points. After taking a 66-51 lead with 7:37 left, Notre Dame withstood a late surge that chipped away at that double-digit margin. Holding a slim 71-64 advantage with 2:33 to go, the Irish then effectively delivered the back-breaker by answering with a three-pointer to boost the lead back up to 10 points. Their final 14 points ended up coming at the foul line, with Purdue managing to keep things interesting by hitting a pair of threes.

Notre Dame Standouts of the Week

John Mooney

Doing the major portion of his damage in the second half, Mooney finished with a team-high 21 points and six rebounds, with his clutch three-pointer giving Notre Dame enough of a cushion to hold off Purdue’s furious rally. After the break, he managed to toss in 15 points and grab five boards, with his offensive surge directly connected to his success beyond the arc that included two other three-pointers.

D.J. Harvey

Finishing with 19 points and five rebounds, Harvey also flourished during the second half by scoring 12 and hauling down three shots off the glass. He hit two three-pointers in those final 20 minutes and has had multiple threes in eight of the 10 Irish games this year, an asset that’s something which can help spread the floor, especially with ACC play on the horizon.

T.J. Gibbs

Ending his afternoon with 12 points, four rebounds and three rebounds, Gibbs struggled all game with his shooting touch. He hit on just three of his 11 shots from the field and drew a blank on all six attempts from beyond the arc. The hope is that he can shake off a slump that;s seen him connect at just a 34 percent rate on field goal attempts.

Notre Dame Basketball’s Week Ahead

After three games away from South Bend, the Irish return to Purcell Pavilion for their final two games before Christmas, The first of these matchups takes place on Tuesday night against the 3-8 Binghamton Bearcats, who are dealing with a three-game losing streak after dropping a 58-48 decision to Youngstown State on Saturday. This clash will only be the second time the two schools have met, with Notre Dame hoping that history repeats itself. That’s because on November 14, 2014, the Irish coasted to an 82-39 victory.

Two nights later, Notre Dame will have no such history to fall back on when they face the 7-5 Jacksonville Dolphins for the first time. Jacksonville has thus far been a streaky team that’s won seven of their last eight games after dropping their first four contests. They’re coming off a Saturday night road win against Bethune-Cookman.

Highlights: Notre Dame Beats Purdue, Loses Pflueger

Notre Dame played its most complete 40 minutes of basketball on Saturday giving Irish fans a glimpse of what this young team is capable of when they start hitting on all cylinders. Any optimism from their 88-80 win over Purdue in the Crossroads Classic, however, was clouded by the news of what appears to be a major injury for senior guard Rex Pflueger.  With 5:35 remaining, Pflueger fell to the ground grabbing his knee and the fear is that it’s his ACL and he will be done for the year and his Irish career.

Despite the potentially devastating injury to Pflueger, the Irish had encouraging performances from John Mooney who scored a career high 21 points, DJ Harvey who tied his career high with 19 points, and freshman Dane Goodwin who chipped in 11 off the bench.

Prior to the injury, Pflueger had easily the best game of his season and one of the better games of his career with a career high 10 assists as he facilitated the Irish offense much of the day.

Notre Dame lost Robby Carmody to season ending surgery earlier this week and Elijah Burns to transfer earlier this season.