Irish struggle down stretch, fall to FSU
Ryan Kolakowski | Tuesday, February 26, 2019
Looking to snap its conference losing streak, Notre Dame again faltered down the stretch — making only one of its final 10 field-goal attempts — on its way to a 68-61 road loss to Florida State on Monday night in Tallahassee, Florida.
The Irish (13-15, 3-12 ACC), limited to a seven-man rotation for the conference matchup, shot 39.3 percent from the floor, including 38.3 percent from 3-point range, but had trouble scoring down the stretch against the Seminoles (22-6, 10-5). Freshman guard Prentiss Hubb and sophomore wing D.J. Harvey led Notre Dame with 17 and 18 points, respectively.
“We gave ourselves a chance,” Irish head coach Mike Brey said. “I’m proud of our group.”
Harvey opened the scoring for the Irish, converting a layup, a 3-point attempt and a pair of free throws to collect Notre Dame’s first seven points of the game.
Florida State and Notre Dame tangled to a 12-12 tie midway through the first half, but the Irish claimed a commanding 10-point lead with a 15-5 run. Hubb drilled two 3-point shots and a pair of layups to collect 10 points before halftime.
“Some of my young guys really battled, and I thought Hubb was fabulous and we’re just getting them experience,” Brey said. “All of them.”
The Irish stretched out the Seminoles’ defense, attempting 24 3-point shots in the game. However, Notre Dame failed to establish a presence inside, struggling to collect rebounds against the Seminoles interior players.
“[Florida State] is really good,” Brey said. “They guard you, and they’re athletic and they’ve got a lot of bodies, but we just couldn’t finish it and that’s kind of been a little bit of the story of us, you know, just maybe not mature enough or mentally tough enough yet to finish against a really good team.”
The Seminoles collected 40 rebounds compared to only 26 for the Irish. Devin Vassell, a 6-foot-6 freshman from Suwanee, Georgia, led the Seminoles with 13 points and seven rebounds. Senior Terance Mann, a 6-foot-7 guard from Lowell, Massachusetts, recorded eight points and an additional six rebounds for the Seminoles.
Junior forward John Mooney, averaging 10.9 rebounds per game for the Irish, collected only eight boards on Monday night. Hubb finished with seven rebounds, and no other Irish player collected more than four boards for the night.
Junior guard T.J. Gibbs struggled to make plays for the Irish. Gibbs finished the night with only four points and five assists while turning the ball over four times. The team captain struggled from the floor, finishing 2-for-9 from the field, and failed to get to the charity stripe in the contest.
The Irish spent most of the matchup in a zone defense, conserving the energy of the seven players who checked into the game. The Notre Dame defense forced 14 Seminole turnovers and held Florida State to 31.6 percent shooting from 3-point range, but the Irish could not respond to the size of Florida State in the paint.
Florida State finished with 34 points in the paint, compared to only 22 for Notre Dame.
“They had key offensive rebounds,” Brey said. “I think their men wore on us down the stretch, and they’ve been in those spots more than some of my youth.”
Notre Dame will continue their season on Sunday when they take on Louisville in another conference road matchup. Tipoff is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. at the KFC Yum! Center.