Irish implode in loss to North Carolina
Meagan Bens | Tuesday, February 13, 2018
Despite coming within one in the second half, the Irish couldn’t overcome the Tar Heels at the Smith Center in Chapel Hill on Monday night, falling 83-66.
Although sophomore forward John Mooney had a career-high 18 points, including a perfect 6-for-6 from three-point range, and senior forward Martinas Geben had 18 points and 7 rebounds, Notre Dame (15-11, 5-8 ACC) couldn’t match North Carolina’s (20-8, 9-5 ACC) offense.
The Irish struggled to build an offensive rhythm in the first half, only shooting 36 percent, but were only behind four points at the half. Senior point guard Matt Farrell particularly struggled, shooting 0-9 with only two points in the first half.
But the early stages of the second half were promising for Notre Dame, who eventually closed a ten point lead to one, at 58-57 with 9:39 off a three-pointer from sophomore guard T.J. Gibbs. But the Irish ran out of steam—only two days removed from Saturday’s win over Florida State — and the Tar Heels responded in kind, going on a 13-0 run over the final 5:30 to put the game away.
“I love how we fought, but they had about a three minute stretch where they were unbelievable offensively and we certainly couldn’t absorb that,” Irish head coach Mike Brey said. “We gave ourselves a chance and I thought they really defended our guards well tonight, our guards have been playing well. They really defended Matt and T.J. well. That was probably a big difference in the game.”
Although UNC’s top scorer, junior forward Luke Maye, finished with only eight points, he dished out four assists, and the rest of the rotation stepped up, as senior point guard Joel Berry II scored 21 points and senior forward Theo Pinson added 16.
“We didn’t really do anything different,” Brey said. “We had a lot of different guys on [Maye]. Off of their non-shooters we helped a little bit and jammed it up. But he did a good job of not forcing anything and letting some other guys get involved.”
While the Tar Heels played three games within five days, Brey noted that their tough schedule served them as an advantage.
“Sometimes people look like it’s a disadvantage that they played three games in five days,” Brey said. “Players love it and they are in a good rhythm. Sometimes when you are playing well you don’t want to mess with it in practice, you put the uniform on and play again. I think they really found a great rhythm in this stretch.”
Accepting the current 15-11 (5-8 ACC) record, Brey said his team is fighting to make eight league wins and bounce back with senior forward Bonzie Colson.
“If we can get it to eight league wins and be 8-10, that’s as good as it gets,” Brey said. “Maybe we get Bonzie [Colson] back here, and we should get him back at the end of the month. We get to Brooklyn with him healthy and we will see if we can play our way in. That’s our lot in life. We’re very realistic of who we are.”
The Irish remain on the road and travel to Chestnut Hill this weekend to take on Boston College at 4 p.m. on Saturday.