Notre Dame comes up short against Louisville, looks to rebound against Georgia Tech
Nate Moller | Wednesday, January 15, 2020
In Saturday’s contest against the No. 13 Louisville Cardinals, the Irish comeback attempt fell three points short and they lost 67-64.
Louisville (13-3, 4-1 ACC) had a 12-point advantage at the half that was largely because of an uncharacteristic amount of turnovers and poor shooting from the Irish (10-6, 1-4 ACC), who were 2 of 13 from beyond the arc and had a measly 24 points at the half.
The Irish looked like a completely different team on offense in the second half, however, putting up 40 points and knocking down eight three-pointers. Despite this, Louisville used a late offensive surge to secure the road win and falter the Irish comeback attempt.
Turnovers were an issue for the Irish offensively early on, as they turned the ball over four times in the first six minutes of the game. On the other side of the court, junior forward Jordan Nwora of Louisville was an issue as well, as he reached double digits early on in the first half. The Irish also struggled to finish layups at the rim, and ultimately allowing Louisville to go on a big run that resulted in as large as a 16-point lead for the Cardinals in the first half.
The game was by no means over, however, as head coach Mike Brey called for a four-guard lineup to reinvigorate the Irish offense in the second half.
“I felt the four-guard lineup would get into a rhythm offensively,” Brey said. “I never felt we could play two big guys against them. … The only way we were going to get back in it was if our guard lineup could score a little bit. And [sophomore guard] Dane [Goodwin] gave us a great lift.”
Goodwin proved to be the spark that the Irish needed. He helped the Irish to a quick 11-1 run to start the half and brought the Irish to within two at the under-16 timeout. The Irish defense also held Louisville to 0 for 5 from the field to start the half.
“I got in one of those grooves for a little bit,” Goodwin said. “I didn’t really have it in the first half, but I got in a great flow in the second half for a while, and it eventually led us to get back in the game and take the lead for a little while.”
Out of the under-16 timeout, the three-point shooting contest began, with five threes made in a row between both teams. The final three of the run came from Irish sophomore guard Prentiss Hubb, who nailed a contested shot and cut the Cardinals’ lead to two points at 52-50.
Both teams then went stagnant on the offensive end for a few minutes before Goodwin knocked down a wide open three to give the Irish their first lead since the opening minutes at 55-53. The Irish lead grew to four with five minutes to play, but Louisville used a 7-0 run down the stretch to grab a five point lead with just over a minute to play. Louisville redshirt senior forward Dwayne Sutton made two threes in this stretch, which would prove to be the difference in the game.
“We gambled on defense on two possessions,” Brey said. ”We reached and gambled into a passing lane, and that really hurt us.”
The game was not over at this point, however, as the Irish got the ball, down three points with 40 seconds remaining.
But the last possession started with ball screens on the perimeter and Hubb driving to the basket, putting up a layup with 10 seconds left that hit the front of the rim.
The Irish secured an offensive rebound, but John Mooney missed a highly contested shot with a few seconds left. The Irish came up short 67-64.
Although Brey was impressed with his team’s determination for fighting back, the game will go down as yet another close, disappointing loss for the Irish who have seen late game leads slip away against Indiana and North Carolina State. Brey expects to be in more games like this and he hopes his team is up for the occasion.
“You can’t inject them with late-game confidence,” Brey said. “You have to have someone make a play a little more consistently. We have not been able to do that. I think we are going to be in this position over and over again and maybe the basketball gods will swing it the other way.”
The Irish will have a chance to rebound from their loss and pick up an important ACC road win in Atlanta this Wednesday against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.
The Yellow Jackets are 8-8 on the season and 3-3 in ACC play. Their three ACC wins are all against teams that the Irish failed to beat: North Carolina State, North Carolina and Boston College. The Irish are 1-10 when playing the Yellow Jackets in Atlanta.
Brey hopes that his team can go against this historical precedence.
“We need a league win,” Brey said. “There is no question about it. The clock is ticking.”
The Irish faced the Yellow Jackets three times last year. They beat the Yellow Jackets at home and in the ACC tournament, but lost in Atlanta by a close score of 63-61.
Brey hopes to secure the road win this year by employing a game plan similar to this year’s win over UCLA. This will likely include a bigger lineup in order to handle Georgia Tech’s size. The Irish will also have to navigate the Yellow Jackets’ zone.
“We have been pretty good against zone, but they have been different this year in that they are about 50-50 between zone and man,” Brey said.
Wednesday’s game could come down to the last possession once again, and Brey hopes someone will step up.
“We’re doing some good stuff, but you have to finish it,” Brey said. ”You have to have some guys step forward. I think we have some guys because I have seen them do it.”
The game will tip Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. ET and can be watched on ACC Network.