Hubb, Gibbs lead Notre Dame to much-needed ACC road win over Georgia Tech
Liam Coolican | Thursday, January 16, 2020
Notre Dame (11-6, 2-4 ACC) defeated Georgia Tech (8-9, 3-4 ACC) by a score of 78-74 on Wednesday in Atlanta, Georgia, in what Irish head coach Mike Brey described as a game his team needed to win.
“We need a league win,” Brey said before the game. “There is no question about it. The clock is ticking.”
The Irish are coming off a 3-point loss suffered against No. 11 Louisville on Saturday, which left them with only one ACC win before Wednesday night’s matchup against the Yellow Jackets.
Notre Dame faced the Yellow Jackets three times last year, with each team winning at home before Georgia Tech beat the Irish in the first round of the ACC tournament.
“We certainly know them,” Brey said before the game. “They’re big, it’s a little bit of the UCLA game plan, where we’re digging in the post, we’re giving up some jump shots, and we’re hoping we can weather them not shooting the heck out of the ball from behind the arc.”
Georgia Tech made just four 3-point shots during the game Wednesday night.
The Irish were led by sophomore guard Prentiss Hubb, who scored a career-high 25 points, and senior guard TJ Gibbs, who added 17 points. Both made up for a rare poor performance from star senior forward John Mooney, who scored just 2 points in the first half and finished 4-12 from the field.
Notre Dame started the game cold from the field, shooting 1-8 in the first four minutes, allowing Georgia Tech to lead 7-4 heading into the under-16 timeout.
The Irish then took their first lead of the game after Gibbs drilled a corner three and sophomore forward Nate Laszewski converted an and-one layup.
After Georgia Tech battled back, senior forward Juwan Durham made a turn-around jumper and flew in for a putback dunk on the next possession to give the Irish a 6-point lead.
Following a Georgia Tech layup, sophomore Dane Goodwin hit a 3 to put the Irish up 7. The Yellow Jackets again battled back and tied the game with a pair of free throws just before the half, but Hubb went the length of the floor and blew by a defender to beat the buzzer with a layup — giving Notre Dame a 29-27 halftime lead.
A Georgia Tech fastbreak slam ignited the home crowd right after the break, but Durham answered with another putback dunk.
Mooney got his first field goal of the game three minutes into the second half with a ferocious dunk over a defender. Mooney, who entered the contest with 10 consecutive double-doubles, scored 8 points in the second half to extend his streak. He finished with 10 points and 13 rebounds, tying the all-time school record for consecutive double-doubles despite his poor shooting night.
Both teams had difficulty maintaining possession and scoring as the second half wore on. Notre Dame began the second half 0-7 from 3-point range. Notre Dame turned the ball over eight times, but forced 13.
A spinning and-one layup gave Georgia Tech a 5-point lead, and Mooney answered with another bucket in the post, but Notre Dame could not keep Georgia Tech from scoring in the paint over the next few possessions.
Goodwin and Gibbs kept Notre Dame close, however, and the Irish took another lead with just over eight minutes to play on a tough layup from Hubb.
A contested step back from Gibbs gave the Irish a 2-point lead after Georgia Tech tied the game, but the Yellow Jackets immediately tied it again — which Hubb answered with two threes. This back-and-forth rhythm continued in the last eight minutes of the game, as both teams began shooting confidently in the last minutes of the match.
Brey commented before the game that he wanted his team to show more poise.
“We could just be better in those last four minutes,” he said. “My message to them down in crunch time is just be solid.”
The Irish were certainly solid in the last few minutes Wednesday.
They led by one point with two minutes left, and extended their lead to three on a tip-in from Hubb before forcing a Georgia Tech turnover.
On the ensuing possession, a deep three from Gibbs with just under a minute left gave the Irish a six point lead. Gibbs calmly hit two free throws in that last minute to secure the much-needed win for the Irish.
Notre Dame will look to secure another conference win next Wednesday when they meet the Syracuse Orange for the second time this season. In the first, the Irish defeated the Orange 88-87 on Jan. 4 in a nail-biter on the road.
Tip off for next week’s match will be at 7 p.m. in Purcell Pavilion.