The possibility of receiving a huge boost from two victories instead boomeranged on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish as they dropped two close matchups last week. Last Wednesday, a fast start to the second half at North Carolina State faded and they ended up losing to the Wolfpack, 73-68. Back home on Saturday afternoon, a second-half comeback against the 13th-ranked Louisville Cardinals couldn’t be sustained, resulting in a heartbreaking 67-64 loss.
The two defeats drop them to 10-6 overall and, more importantly, result in them now having just one win in their five conference games this season. Last week’s matchups saw both games spin in different directions during the course of the contests. The problem was that when the final horn sounded, Mike Brey’s squad ended up on the losing end, with the pair of defeats now relegating them to a three-way tie for 13th place in the 15-team ACC.
Notre Dame Basketball’s Week in Review
In Raleigh, Notre Dame’s first-half saw them hold the lead for much of the opening 20 minutes, though by halftime, that advantage was just 39-34. Their largest lead was nine, following a three-pointer from Prentiss Hubb with 4:28 to go.
A Hubb layup early in the second half gave Notre Dame their largest lead at 51-39, but from then on, North Carolina State whittled away the margin. The Wolfpack tied the game at 60, then took the lead for good on a pair of free throws with 1:38 left.
A deadly 12-3 run by Louisville with less than five minutes turned what would have been a stirring comeback into an agonizing near-miss for Notre Dame. The Irish had jumped out to an early 7-2 lead, but then watch the Cardinals come close to breaking the game open as they outscored their hosts 34-17 run to take a 12-point lead into the half.
Notre Dame battled back, chipping away at their deficit by starting off after the break with an 11-1 run. That got them back into the game, but they weren’t able to take the lead until Dane Goodwin’s three-pointer with 7:08 to go gave the Irish a 55-53 lead. A last-ditch bid in the closing seconds failed to get off a potential shot to send it to overtime.
Notre Dame Standouts of the Week
Mooney kept his double-double streak going against the Wolfpack, contributing 14 points and grabbed 14 rebounds, while also swatting away a shot. However, his aggressive play resulted in his fouling out of the game with 1:38 left.
Delivering much of the same against Louisville, Mooney tossed in 15 points, hauling down 19 boards, blocking three shots and picking up two assists. His one steal gave the Irish a last shot to send the game into overtime, but that came up empty. The three blocked shots matched his season-high, set on December 29 against Alabama A&M.
Hubb had the most dramatically different week in this trio of performers, starting off with a strong performance by scoring 24 points, picking up three rebounds, while contributing a pair of assists and steals. Once again, his touch from long-range fueled his scoring punch, connecting on 4-of-7 beyond the arc and 9-of-14 overall.
That shooting prowess deserted Hubb against Louisville as he made just 3-of-14 from the field and was a miserable 2-for-10 on his three-point attempts. That resulted in just eight points on the afternoon, though he did deliver in the playmaking department with eight assists, while also adding three rebounds and two steals.
Gibbs provided nearly matching scoring efforts, beginning with his 14 points at North Carolina State. In that losing effort, he also was the primary playmaker, handing out six assists, while also crashing the boards for three rebounds and picking up a pair of steals.
On Saturday, Gibbs upped his point total by one, with his 15 points along with two assists. His production was representative of the Irish, with 13 of those points coming after the break and helping power the comeback.
Notre Dame Basketball’s Week Ahead
Just one game is on the Notre Dame schedule this week, but it will be a road matchup at Georgia Tech, with the Yellow Jackets coming off a 71-52 victory at Boston College on Saturday. Tech is 8-8 overall and 3-3 in the ACC, with the Irish’s trip to Atlanta last year resulting in a tough 63-61 loss.