Fueled by a riveting second-half comeback 77-76 win against the North Carolina Tar Heels on Monday, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish then completed a perfect week by using a strong first half to defeat the Miami Hurricanes, 87-71, on Sunday night. With just four regular-season games remaining for the Irish, both wins were crucial
The victories boost Notre Dame’s overall record to 17-10 on the season and once again evens their mark in the rugged ACC at 8-8 for the year. While the latter mark isn’t likely to get them among the top four teams in the conference without some major help, the overall record enhances the possibility of an NCAA bid next month.
Notre Dame’s Basketball’s Week in Review
Coming off a 34-point beatdown, the Irish were in danger of watching their season go down the drain during their Monday night battle against North Carolina. The first half of action saw both teams taking leads, with the Irish holding a 33-24 advantage, but for the remainder of the Half, the Tar Heels went on a 9-3 surge to slice their deficit to just three at 36-33.
When play resumed, North Carolina’s momentum continued when they knotted the score at 38 and continued their push during a 29-9 run that gave them a 62-47 lead with 9:09 remaining in the game. From that point, the backcourt duo of Prentiss Hubb and T.J. Gibbs led the comeback by each scoring 11 points and Gibbs draining a trio of three-pointers. Trailing by two at 76-74 in the final minute, Notre Dame got the ball back with 22 seconds left, with John Mooney’s miss with six seconds to go rebounded by Rex Pflueger, who whipped it out to Nate Laszewski, who hit the game-winner with two seconds left.
On Sunday night, the Irish avoided the drama of their previous game by putting together a 30-8 run over the final nine minutes of the first half to defeat the Hurricanes. In the first five minutes, Notre Dame had jumped out to a 10-5 lead, then saw Miami put together a 16-8 surge of their own. For the Irish run, T.J. Gibbs once again used his long-range shooting touch to tally 11 points, which included a trio of three-pointers.
Holding a 48-29 halftime advantage, Notre Dame never let their lead get below double-digits and led by a many as 26 at 80-54 with 6:24 left. That cushion allowed the Irish to coast for the remainder of the game, with head coach Mike Brey inserting rarely-used reserves Nikola Djogo and Elijah Morgan to get them some playing time.
Notre Dame Standouts of the Week
Hubb led the Irish in scoring for the week with 35 points and also was the central playmaker who helped deliver the week’s two victories. Against North Carolina, he tossed in 20 points and handed out eight assists. In the Miami clash, he managed to rack up a double-double by scoring 15 points and collecting 10 assists, while also grabbing four rebounds.
Gibbs delivered a pair of double-digit scoring performances, starting with his 14-point effort against North Carolina that also included picking up a pair of rebounds. Doing a little bit of everything in the Miami win, he scored 19 points, teamed with Prentiss Hubb to hand out five assists, picked up three steals and again hauled down two boards.
Mooney’s consistency this season is such that another pair of double-double performances last week almost comes across as an afterthought. In the win over the Tar Heels, he scored 13 points and corralled 10 rebounds, then followed that up with 19 points and 12 boards against Miami. In that contest against the Hurricanes, he also handed out a pair of assists and swatted away a pair of shots.
Notre Dame Basketball’s Week Ahead
Needing to stay in the win column to keep their NCAA hopes alive, Notre Dame hits the road for a Wednesday night game against the Boston College Eagles, followed by a Saturday afternoon matchup pitting them against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons.
Against the Eagles, the Irish hope to gain some revenge after Boston College stunned them on December 7, 73-72, to end a 13-game Notre Dame winning streak in the series. The Irish have won six of the last seven meetings against Wake, the most recent coming in a 90-80 victory on January 29 at Purcell Pavillion.