Farrell’s career-high leads Notre Dame past Boston College
Marek Mazurek | Monday, February 19, 2018
There must be something in the air when Notre Dame plays Boston College.
Because not even Oprah could hand out more career-highs than have been reached when the Irish and the Eagles have met this season.
On Feb. 6 at Purcell Pavilion, it was sophomore guard T.J. Gibbs — who scored 22 points in the first half to finish with 28 — and Boston College junior Jerome Robinson with 46 points, who tallied career-highs.
On Saturday in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, senior guard Matt Farrell wrote his way into Notre Dame record books with a career-high 37 points, as the Irish (16-11, 6-8 ACC) took home an 84-67 win over the Eagles (16-11, 6-8 ACC).
“I just wanted to be aggressive, come out aggressive,” Farrell said. “I didn’t like the way I played against [North Carolina], and I wanted to come out with that mindset where if I have an open look, just be decisive and take it. It felt good today, so I just kept doing what I was doing.
“After a couple of them, I was feeling really good.”
Irish head coach Mike Brey also had praise for Farrell, who originally committed to play for Boston College before a coaching change opened his recruitment back up.
“It was one of the great performances in a Notre Dame uniform, it really was,” Brey said of Farrell’s night. “Especially at a time when we really need a win against a good team.”
Farrell’s 10 3-pointers tied a Notre Dame record for the most made 3s in a game. Farrell was 9-for-9 from deep before finally missing nearly halfway through the second half. On top of that, Farrell was just 1-of-12 from 3-point range in Notre Dame’s previous game against North Carolina.
Farrell’s eight 3s in the first half propelled the Irish to an early lead that saw Brey’s squad up 46-30 at halftime.
“I thought our first half, at both ends of the floor, really put us in a great position,” Brey said after the game. “I thought we defended them really well — they only had 30 points.”
The Irish run continued early in the second half, as two quick baskets from Gibbs put the Irish in front by 20.
But the rest of the half saw Boston College slowly whittle down the lead.
Farrell missed his first 3-pointer of the game with just under 12 minutes left to play, and the Eagles brought the game within 14 at 61-47 as Farrell’s production momentarily dropped off.
Junior guard and defensive stalwart Rex Pflueger also sat out most of the second half after hurting his back on a hard fall. Pflueger briefly returned to the game but quickly ended up back on the bench. Brey said after the game that Pflueger should be ready to go for Monday’s game.
Freshman forward D.J. Harvey was also expected to come back against the Eagles, but he tweaked his knee in practice Friday and had his return date pushed back.
But Gibbs and senior forward Martinas Geben stepped up on the offensive end to keep the Irish above water for the middle of the second half. Gibbs finished with 15 points and Geben finished with 12 to compliment Farrell’s 37.
Sophomore guard Nikola Djogo — who played extended minutes in place of the injured Pflueger — also had a solid showing, putting up nine points without missing a shot.
Djogo’s burst of offense gave Notre Dame some breathing room before the home stretch, as the Irish took a 10-point lead into the under-four minute media timeout.
“I thought they were going to be keying on me a little more in the second half, so I wanted to come out and maybe find guys,” Farrell said. “They were packing the lane, and guys made big shots.”
But the Eagles wouldn’t go away and made it a nine-point game with 3:33 left thanks to a 29-point performance from Robinson.
The Irish took the win, however, on the back of a key 10-3 run from that point of the contest on to put the game out of reach.
The win over Boston College was a much-needed victory for the Irish, who are trying to scratch their way into the NCAA tournament. The Irish, now at 6-8 in the conference, will likely need to hit a 9-9 regular-season record and make a run in the ACC tournament to have a shot to convince the selection committee.
“We didn’t talk much or celebrate at all in there,” Brey said of the job the Irish have left. “We talked about getting another one. We need to go back and get some rest … and play against a good Miami team on Monday.”
The Irish fly back to South Bend to take on Miami at home Monday. The Hurricanes (18-8, 7-7) are coming off of three-straight losses, most recently a home defeat at the hands of Syracuse.
After that, Notre Dame will look at winnable games against Wake Forest and Pittsburgh, before traveling to take on No. 1 Virginia.
“We’re fighting and scratching and really trying to stay alive in this thing,” Brey said.