Irish triumph over Clemson in double overtime
Joseph Monardo | Tuesday, February 11, 2014
It took a pair of overtimes, but Notre Dame secured the win over Clemson it seemed to have wrapped up 10 minutes earlier. Behind a double-double from sophomore forward Zach Auguste, the Irish (13-12, 4-8) secured the 68-64 victory for their second win in the last seven outings.
“It felt like everybody was throwing blows the whole game,” Irish senior guard Eric Atkins said. “You know, we pulled it off.”
Atkins led the Irish with 16 points in the victory, while Auguste contributed 14 points and 12 rebounds.
With Clemson leading by one with 1:02 remaining, Irish freshman guard Steve Vasturia hit his second 3-pointer of the period to give Notre Dame a tenuous two-point lead. Two free throws by Irish junior guard/forward Pat Connaughton 44 seconds later helped seal the deal for the home team.
Tigers junior guard K.J. McDaniels put forth a stellar effort in the loss, finishing with 30 points and 14 rebounds.
“They’re very good,” Irish coach Mike Brey said of Clemson (15-8, 6-5). “We saw one of the best players in the league in K.J. McDaniels. Again, I’m really proud that we were able to get a league win.”
Both offenses were silent for most of the first overtime, as a free throw by Vasturia 15 seconds into the period was the only point for the first 3:44 of extra time. Each side came alive in the final minute, but a McDaniels 3-point attempt at the buzzer rimmed out.
After taking a 32-27 lead into halftime, Notre Dame controlled most of the second-half action, never trailing and building a lead of as many as nine points.
“There was a few times where I looked at the scoreboard and I was like, ‘We got this,’” Atkins said. “And then they come down and, you know, they made the plays. A couple turnovers here and there and they tied it back up again, even took the lead a couple times.”
Clemson stayed in striking range for much of the game, and cut the deficit to one several times in the second half. The Tigers finally tied it up with 4.6 seconds remaining in regulation, when junior guard Rod Hall hit the second of two free-throw attempts after drawing a foul driving to the basket. Atkins attempted a running 3-pointer at the buzzer, but could not find the distance, so the teams prepared for overtime.
Notre Dame relied on a short bench against Clemson, with only eight scholarship players available in uniform. Irish freshman forward V.J. Beacham made his first career start, finishing with four points and three rebounds. Vasturia came off the bench and finished with 11 points and four boards.
Brey discusses Jackson’s absence
Brey said at the post-game press conference Irish freshman guard Demetrius Jackson did not attend the game due to academic obligations.
“With D, it’s real simple,” Brey said. “Just academic habits. He had such a great fall semester and summer, and is just behind. Just improved academic habits. I put on my high school coach and teacher hat … It’s how I’ve handled many guys when I was a high-school coach and teacher, and certainly here. A lot of times it’s been in the offseason so you guys haven’t known about it. But you get to come back to basketball when those habits get consistent. So we’ll give him some time to get caught up. And if he’s caught up at the end of the week, we’ll get him back to practice and go from there. Just gotta get back to those good habits that I saw in the fall.”
With 15 starts under his belt this season, Jackson had been supplanted in Notre Dame’s starting lineup for the four games prior to Tuesday’s matchup.
“I think Demetrius Jackson is very committed to being at Notre Dame,” Brey said. “It’s a matter of just getting back into a good academic rhythm that I’ve seen before, and we’ll coach him into that. Sometimes as a parent and a teacher and a coach, some tough love is needed.
“I just think he didn’t get off to as good a start as he did in the fall semester. So you do what you gotta do to help a guy grow up.”
Brey’s announcement regarding Jackson’s status comes after Irish senior guard Jerian Grant lost his eligibility for the remainder of the season on Dec. 21 due to an academic issue.
“I don’t think that’s ever affected [the rest of the team], when we lost personnel by injury, by whatever,” Brey said. “They come back and play and other guys have known they are going to get more of an opportunity.
“I give a lot of credit to Atkins, Connaughton, Sherman and Knight. They’re old, they’ve seen a lot. They keep us pretty steady.”
Notre Dame will look to establish its first ACC winning streak when it travels to Chestnut Hill, Mass., to face Boston College on Sunday.