Irish win on another buzzer beater, topple Eagles 62-61
Observer Sports Staff | Thursday, February 27, 2020
When Boston College (13-16, 7-11 ACC) visited Notre Dame (18-10, 9-8 ACC) in December, the Eagles rode a hot shooting performance to a large first-half lead, and then, despite struggling to score against the Irish zone defense, just barely held on for a one-point victory. When Notre Dame visited Chestnut Hill on Wednesday night, the game followed largely the same script, but this time, Notre Dame got just enough offense to polish off their rally, with senior guard TJ Gibbs dropping in a layup at the buzzer to lift the Irish to a 62-61 road victory.
In a game where offense, especially in the second half, was hard to come by, it was once again senior forward John Mooney leading Notre Dame with 22 points and 12 rebounds, recording yet another double-double. Sophomore guard Prentiss Hubb and sophomore forward Nate Laszewski notched 10 points apiece, while Gibbs chipped in nine for the Irish.
The game got off to a very offensive start, with both teams making their first two field goal attempts, and the Eagles, on the strength of a pair of threes, jumped out to a 6-4 advantage. Boston College stayed in the lead until Gibbs drilled a triple for a 14-12 Notre Dame advantage with 13 minutes to go in the half. The two squads tussled back and forth for the next eight minutes, with neither squad being able to seize control of the game. Notre Dame, still somewhat in play for an NCAA tournament berth, had a lot to play for, while the Eagles were looking to secure a season sweep over their rivals and move up in the ACC standings. As both teams took turns punching each other in the mouth, the Eagles gradually began to gain the upperhand. After Notre Dame tied the game 27-27, Boston College’s Julian Rishwain drained a three to kickstart a 10-0 run, and the Eagles stretched their lead all the way to 41-31, but Irish graduate student guard Rex Pflueger stole the ball and fired up a prayer at the buzzer which fell through the net to cut the deficit to seven points at the half.
Much like their first meeting, Boston College’s offense dried up in the second half, but Notre Dame struggled to put up enough points to pull off a comeback. The Eagles increased their advantage to 45-36, but the Irish ripped off a 7-0 run to pull back within three, with a Hubb 3-pointer fueling the spurt. After a Boston College bucket, Laszewski calmly swished a 3-pointer to cut the Eagles’ lead to one. However Boston College countered with a three, and then neither team found the hoop for nearly four minutes of clock time, as sophomore guard Dane Goodwin got a free throw to rattle home with 9:48 to go in the game to break the scoring drought.
Unfortunately for the Irish, they were victimized by another well-timed Rishwain 3-pointer, which extended Boston College’s lead to six points. Down 55-49, Notre Dame again turned to Laszewski who poured in five straight to bring the Irish back within a single point. Finally though, Notre Dame’s struggling offense took advantage of their stellar second half defensive efforts, and with 3:44 remaining on the clock, Gibbs fed Hubb for a triple and 58-57 lead. Boston College made a jumper to jump back ahead, and then neither team scored for another two minutes and eight seconds, but Gibbs broke the drought with a layup. Down 60-59, Boston College got the ball, and after scoring just 18 points in the half, broke through the Notre Dame brick wall of defense, laying the ball in with eight ticks left. Hubb took the ball, and it looked like he might have to launch a desperation three, but with seconds left, he dished it off to Gibbs in the paint, who turned and lofted a floater that dropped through as the buzzer sounded for a 62-61 lead.
Notre Dame improves to 9-8 and rockets up to fifth place in the ACC as their quest to secure an at-large NCAA tournament bid continues. They visit Wake Forest, who is coming off a double-overtime upset of Duke, Saturday.