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Men’s Basketball

Irish rout Clemson in loud Purcell Pavilion

| Friday, January 14, 2022

On Tuesday, Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey stood on campus dining hall tables to call on Notre Dame students to show up to the first home game since their return from the holiday break. 

They did.

After multiple wins at home, including over blue-blood North Carolina, in front of eerily sleepy crowds, Purcell Pavilion finally got some juice back. 

Of course, scoring on six straight possessions to open to the game didn’t hurt the atmosphere either. 

Senior guard Dane Goodwin led the Irish with 21 points on 8-10 shooting from the field as the Irish (10-5, 4-1 ACC) grabbed their sixth straight win. They moved up to second in the ACC standings with a 72-56 victory over Clemson (10-6, 2-3 ACC) Wednesday night in a consistently loud Purcell Pavilion. 

Brey praised Goodwin as a player of the year candidate postgame. He said he feels Notre Dame students will keep showing up after storming the court following the upset of then-No. 10 Kentucky in December and enjoying Wednesday night’s emphatic win. 

“‘We need you.’” Brey said of his message to Notre Dame students. “‘Let’s have fun.’ And it helps our kids, no question.”

Clemson entered the contest ranked third nationally in three-point percentage at 41%. Brey’s team held the Tigers to 6-32 shooting from beyond the arc. 

“I’m really impressed with them,” Brey said of Clemon’s offense this season. “So I felt we had to chase them off the arc continually, which we’ve done.” 

Notre Dame shot 45.5% from the field and 38.5% from three on Wednesday, compared to 34.4% and 18.8% for the Tigers, respectively. The Irish have not lost this season when shooting better than their opponents. 

The threes started to pour in early for the Irish. Senior guard Dane Goodwin nailed Notre Dame’s first shot from behind the arc before senior forward Nate Laszewski followed up a layup with a three of his own to extend an 8-0 run. That forced Clemson head coach Brad Brownell to use his first timeout just over three minutes in with the Irish up 12-4. 

Another Goodwin three made it six consecutive buckets before Wesley finally turned the ball over in transition to give Clemson its first defensive stop of the game. The Tigers, meanwhile, started 0-5 from beyond the arc until threes from redshirt sophomore Chase Hunter and senior Hunter Tyson cut the Notre Dame lead to five. 

Freshman guard Blake Wesley, the reigning ACC Freshman of the week, got off to an uncharacteristically cold start offensively. The second leading freshman scorer in the ACC turned the ball over twice in the first 10 minutes, as well as starting 0-3 from three and 1-4 from the field. 

However, Notre Dame still embarked on a 13-2 run that included three-pointers from senior guards Trey Wertz, Cormac Ryan and Goodwin and some stifling team defense to make it 32-16. The Tigers had a nearly five-minute scoring drought midway through the half and shot just 26% from the field and under 13% from three before halftime. A layup from sophomore forward PJ Hall that cut the Irish lead to 14 with just under four-and-a-half minutes to go was the first Clemson field goal in over seven minutes.

Goodwin, Notre Dame’s leading scorer this season, matched his season average in the first half with an incredibly efficient 15 points on 5-6 shooting from the field. A three-point play with two seconds left from Laszewski, who finished the first half with seven points on perfect shooting from field and charity stripe, gave the Irish a 39-22 lead heading into halftime. 

Goodwin picked up his third personal foul on a charge call on Notre Dame’s first possession of the second half. He would later pick up his fourth with over ten minutes to play, but Brey largely kept the Ohio native in the game. 

Goodwin repaid his coach’s trust by avoiding a fifth foul and continuing to score key buckets, including an impressive fadeaway to make it 46-26 at the under-16 timeout. 

Brey said he is wary of overcoaching when it comes to foul trouble. 

“I’m confident with our older guys playing with fouls now,” he said. 

The Irish were also bolstered by a second-half resurgence from Wesley. After his slow start, the South Bend native responded with 16 points in the second half while going 5-10 from the field. 

Brey said he has a lot of respect for the freshman’s mentality. 

“A young player like that, a lot of times when they start like that — caught traveling and can’t make a shot — they can’t find their way back,” he said. “He always has, every game.” 

The offensive struggles largely continued for Clemson after the break. Sophomore forward PJ Hall found some limited success inside, finishing with fourteen points. Despite being up by 19 with just over nine minutes to go, Brey continued to wave his arms to elicit noise from the student section. 

The crowd of over 7,600 erupted shortly thereafter when senior guard Prentiss Hubb got his first points of the game with a three that restored Notre Dame’s lead back up to twenty with about 8:30 to go. After two more defensive stops, a Wesley three kept Purcell Pavilion on its feet and forced Brownell to again call for a timeout. 

Clemson cut into the lead late with a small resurgence from behind the arc, but the Irish managed the clock and cruised to a fourth-straight conference win and their ninth straight conference victory dating back to last season. 

Notre Dame will now hit the road to take on Virginia Tech Saturday. Then they head to the nation’s capital to take on Howard on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. The Irish will look to pick up a seventh-straight win in Blacksburg against a team that is still winless in ACC play this season. The Hokies fell to 8-7 overall Wednesday night in a 54-52 loss at home to Virginia. 

Tip-off at Cassell Coliseum is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. and will air on the ACC Network. After this weekend’s road trip and another conference road game against Louisville next Saturday, Notre Dame will begin a three-game homestand. 

When the Irish return, Brey said he may consider crowdsurfing if his team’s success, and the strong support from the student section, continue. 

“I wonder how long it would take me to be ‘surfed’ from the baseline all the way to the top,” he said. “We’re going to try it out before the year is out on a good win.”

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