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
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.
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.
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.