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
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.
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.
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.