Squad drops road game to Wake Forest
Inigo Yturralde | Monday, March 2, 2020
On Saturday, Feb. 29, the Notre Dame men’s basketball team faced off against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons in the back half of a five-day road trip. The Irish men were unsuccessful against Wake Forest, losing the game 73-84.
This loss concluded a three-game win streak for the Irish. Looking to clinch an NCAA tournament bid, this loss was tough for the team to stomach. With only two games remaining in the regular season, every win counts as the team looks to build momentum for the ACC tournament.
Senior forward John Mooney once again lived up to his veteran status against the Demon Deacons. The Orlando, Florida native put up 24 points and 17 rebounds on 38 minutes of playing time. Mooney led the Irish in all three of these categories. This was Mooney’s 24th double-double of the season.
Reflecting on the game, Irish head coach Mike Brey had a clear idea of where the team struggled. Wake Forest had a few key players that performed well against the Irish. Particularly, two players put up double-doubles in points and rebounds.
“Well, give them credit. We had no answers for the big fella [Demon Deacons junior center Olivier Sarr] tonight,” Brey said. “He is gifted. We tried a little bit of everything. We played a lot of zone and that got us back in it, but then they made three timely threes that kind of broke our back. Something like that you have got to give them credit. We just really couldn’t deal with the inside-outside combination of Sarr and [senior guard Brandon] Childress and [junior guard Chaundee] Brown.”
Commenting on how the team fought to stay alive, Brey made references to the rhythm of his team and the energy behind this Demon Deacon team.
“I love it. We battle back,” Brey said. “We always find a way to make it interesting, but couldn’t quite get over the hump. We missed some free throws tonight which were key. That hurt us. I think that Wake has played with a great vibe all week. They played with great belief all week and they’ve gotten two wins because of it.”
Brey also took the opportunity to praise sophomore Nate Laszewski for an all-star performance on defense at Wake Forest. The sophomore forward had 15 points on the night.
“Our best post defender was Nate Laszewski tonight,” Brey said. “Our senior big guys didn’t guard anybody tonight. I love them to death, but they did not play any defense. That’s why we started Nate in the second half and said just foul the heck out of them if you have to. He was physical on them and we played some zone.”
Looking to focus on the team’s next challenge, Brey will now prepare his team for their highly anticipated rematch against Florida State. The game will take place in Purcell Pavilion on Wednesday, March 4 at 9:00 p.m.