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Men’s Basketball: Cooling off

Matthew DeFranks | Monday, February 27, 2012

No. 19 Notre Dame came into Monday’s game against No. 12 Georgetown with a chance to claim a double bye in the Big East tournament. Instead, after a 59-41 loss, the Irish left Washington, D.C., with a two-game losing streak.

“I think it’s a little bit of a wake-up call for us,” Irish coach Mike Brey said in a postgame interview with und.com. “Life has been good for us. Last time we lost two in a row, we came back and we got into a real good practice regimen, which we can do again.”

Georgetown freshman Greg Whittington led the Hoyas (22-6, 12-5 Big East) with 15 points on five of six shooting, knocking down all three of his 3-pointers. Georgetown had three different players score in double figures — senior guard Jason Clark and senior center Henry Sims also scored more than 10 points.

Notre Dame (20-10, 12-5) and Georgetown were tied at 11 midway through the first half before the Hoyas closed the opening period on a 17-7 run, opening up a 28-18 lead at the break.

Irish junior forward Jack Cooley failed to score or record a rebound during the first half. He finished with just two points.

“I really got after them at halftime. I got after Jack at halftime,” Brey said. “I think some juices will be flowing in practice starting Wednesday morning.”

Cooley came into the game as the Big East’s fourth leading rebounder and had averaged a double-double in conference play (14.6 points per game and 10.4 rebounds per game).

“I was disappointed [in Cooley’s performance],” Brey said. “I thought his energy level was down a little bit. All of our success this year has really come off of what he’s given us inside [and] we didn’t get much. But other guys weren’t good either.”

The Irish shot just 33 percent for the game, including three-for-16 from behind the arc. They were also outrebounded by 16.

“I give a lot of credit to Georgetown’s defense,” Brey said. “We had a hard time finding any kind of opening. Their length and size and quickness really bothered us. We had the tempo where we wanted it, but we could never get into much of an offensive rhythm.”

The Hoyas ripped off a 13-2 spurt over six minutes in the second half to open up a 21-point lead. Georgetown’s largest lead was 23.

In its last two Big East wins, Notre Dame held Villanova and West Virginia to 11 combined field goals in the second half. Georgetown matched that number, making 11 shots in the second stanza.

“It’s a one game season right now,” Brey said. “We play Providence Friday, we’re preparing for one game. We need some good practice [repetitions].”

Notre Dame will return home Friday to take on Providence in the last regular season game of the year.

Contact Matthew DeFranks at mdefrank@nd.edu