After a pair of miserable weeks, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish got at least temporarily back on track with two home victories over the Wake Forest Demon Deacons and the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. The victories raise the Irish’s record to 13-8 overall and 4-6 in the ACC, with the latter mark only three games behind the teams that are currently situated in the middle of the pack of the conference standings.
The wins were badly needed by Mike Brey’s squad after they’d dropped four of their last five, with all four of those defeats resulting in winnable contests that slipped away.. There’s still five weeks worth of action remaining in Notre Dame’s regular season, but after Wednesday night’s home matchup against Pitt, six of the next seven matchups will take place on enemy courts.
Notre Dame Basketball’s Week in Review
After struggling during the first half against Wake, the Irish managed to surge past the Demon Deacons for a 90-80 win. The fast-paced contest started slow for Notre Dame, which missed six f their first seven shots from the field and ended the half shooting just 35 percent in that department. On the scoreboard, the Irish found themselves trailing by a 41-36 score.
Within the first three minutes of the second half, Notre Dame had tied the game and then took the lead for good, leading by as many as 12 points. However, they did have to contend with a later surge by Wake that cut the margin to just three points with 3:35 left. Clutch shooting by Nate Laszewski and T.J. countered that threat, putting the Irish back in the win column.
On Saturday, Notre Dame led Georgia Tech at the half, 36-33, thanks largely to solid defense that limited the Yellow Jackets to 37 percent shooting from the field. The problem was that the Irish were getting pounded on the boards, especially when it came to second-chance opportunities and also committed five turnovers.
After the break, Notre Dame had success in drawing fouls, with Tech whistled 22 times compared to the Irish’s nine fouls. At one point, Notre Dame built up a 12-point lead, taking control of the game after the score was deadlocked for the final time at 48 with 12:45 to play. That surge began with the Irish scoring 10 of the next 12 points and ended with a John Mooney layup with just under four minutes left to make it 71-59.
Notre Dame Standouts of the Week
After his double-double streak came to an end against Florida State, Mooney began a new one with a pair of strong performances. For much of the first half against Wake, he was also kept off the boards, but closed strong to finish with 19 points and 13 rebounds. Against Georgia Tech, he then collected 28 points and 10 boards, delivering 18 of those points following intermission.
Providing consistent scoring punch, Gibbs was another major factor in both Notre Dame wins on the week. Facing the Demon Deacons, he delivered a team-high 23 points and also handed out four assists. Three days later, he complemented Mooney’s efforts with a strong second half, scoring 13 of his 19 points, with seven of those tallies coming at the free throw line.
Coming off the bench in both games last week, Goodwin provided matching 14-point performances, while grabbing four and five rebounds, respectively in the two games. His shooting touch saw him connect at a rate of 58 percent from the field over the two games. That helped blunt the shooting woes of Prentiss Hubb, who only managed to hot on two of his 17 attempts for the week.
Notre Dame Basketball’s Week Ahead
Wednesday night’s visit by Pittsburgh will mark only their fifth visit to Notre Dame in the past decade, with the two teams splitting the previous four meetings. Two years ago, the Irish defeated the Panthers, 73-56, near the end of the 2017-18 regular season. Pitt enters the game with a 14-8 overall record and has won five of their 11 conference matchups.
On Sunday, Notre Dame makes their first trip to Clemson in two years and hopes to end the two-game winning streak the Tigers have compiled in the series. Entering this week, Clemson has a 12-9 overall record and is 6-5 in the ACC, with a Wednesday night clash at Virginia preceding the Notre Dame contest.