Georgia Tech stings Notre Dame late
Brian Plamondon | Monday, February 22, 2016
After trailing at the half recently against both North Carolina and Louisville, No. 19 Notre Dame looked like it was going to pull off its third straight come-from-behind victory after storming back from seven down at Georgia Tech on Saturday.
That wouldn’t be the case, however, as the Yellow Jackets (15-12, 5-9 ACC) went on a 9-2 run to end the game, including the game-winning bucket with two second left, to beat the Irish (18-8, 9-5 ACC), 63-62.
“They made clutch plays,” Irish head coach Mike Brey said. “We just couldn’t get that last stop.”
The winning basket came after the Irish missed a chance to extend their one point lead on junior guard Demetrius Jackson’s missed jumper. After a tie-up, possession was awarded to the Yellow Jackets, who called timeout with 10.4 seconds to play. Georgia Tech went to its best player after the stoppage, as senior guard Marcus Georges-Hunt spun past Irish junior guard Steve Vasturia and drove to the basket for a contested short jumper.
“Even though Steve got a pretty good chest on [Georges-Hunt], he’s so physical and strong,” Brey said.
With the loss, Notre Dame was dealt a crucial blow in its quest for a double-bye in the ACC tournament. With the top four teams securing byes, the Irish now sit in a tie for fifth with No. 20 Duke. Notre Dame is now two games behind No. 5 North Carolina and a game behind No. 11 Miami (Fla.), No. 7 Virginia and No. 18 Louisville with two and a half weeks until the tournament begins.
Georgia Tech improved to 11-5 at home with the win. Although a tough loss for the Irish, the Yellow Jackets may be better than their record indicates: eight of their nine ACC losses have been by single digits.
The Georgia Tech offense mainly revolved around Georges-Hunt, who led the Yellow Jackets with 19 points in a team-high 40 minutes. Georges-Hunt was aided in securing the win by a host of his senior teammates in redshirt senior forward Nick Jacobs, senior forward Charles Mitchell and graduate student guard Adam Smith. Jacobs scored nine points and grabbed 12 rebounds, while Mitchell and Smith scored 14 and nine points, respectively.
Brey referenced the Yellow Jackets’ veteran makeup as being a key for Georgia Tech.
“They’re old, and they’re men,” Brey said. “They’re physical. We had a hard time dealing with them in the post with those big guys early.”
The Irish were led by junior forward V.J. Beachem and senior forward Zach Auguste in the loss, who each scored 13 points. Jackson scored 12 on just 5-13 shooting, while sophomore forward Bonzie Colson added 10 points.
For the third straight game, the Irish hurt their chances early. This time, it was due to cold shooting and more first-half turnovers (6) than assists (3). Notre Dame closed the gap steadily in the second half, as it cut Georgia Tech’s lead to 46-45 with 11:33 left in the game following a Beachem three-pointer. Auguste gave the Irish its first lead since 3-2 just one possession later with a layup.
Later that half, the Irish went up by as much as 60-54 before fading down the stretch.
“We dug ourselves out of a hole,” Brey said. “We gave ourselves a chance.”
Notre Dame will look to rebound Wednesday when it hits the road again to take on a struggling Wake Forest team, which has lost its last 11 games. Tip-off is set for 9 p.m. at Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum.