Photo by Rick Kimball/ISD
Notre Dame Basketball

With Nate Great, Irish Nab Victory

January 29, 2020
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Unassuming, as ever, Nate Laszewski was discussing all the ways his Notre Dame teammates infuse him with confidence when senior guard T.J. Gibbs barely allowed Laszewski to finish his answer.

“Shoot the ball, Nate,” Gibbs emphasized. “Shoot that thing every single time you touch it.”

Laszewski turned eight shots into a season-high 18 points Wednesday night and spurred Notre Dame’s come-from-behind, 90-80 win against visiting Wake Forest (9-11, 2-8 Atlantic Coast Conference) inside Purcell Pavilion.

“Everyone on the team always tells me when I have a look, step up and take it,” Laszewski said. “Play with confidence, play with swagger and just try to keep doing that.”

Despite trailing by five, 41-36, at the break, the Fighting Irish (12-8, 3-6) played with a poise and purpose across the final 20 minutes that some belied a team that has suffered six of its eight losses by five or fewer points.

Notre Dame matched its season-best with 22 makes at the free-throw line, including hitting their first 13 charity tosses, and also clamped down defensively on Wake Forest guard Brandon Childress, who led all scorers with 24 points.

In the first of three-straight league home games, Notre Dame notched its first ACC win in nearly a year.

“Alright, alright. Got one at home,” Irish coach Mike Brey said. “And I love how when they made a run at us there, we called timeout and finished it off.

“I thought our defense was better in the second half, and, you know, we scored 54. We can get in an offensive rhythm. We scored enough to get out of there. God knows we needed it.”

Gibbs paced the Irish with a season-high 23 points while John Mooney returned to his double-double form --- producing 19 points and a game-high 13 boards for his 16th double-double on the season. Dane Goodwin added 14 off the bench, giving the Irish’s short-handed group of reserves a total of 32 points, 10 rebounds and two of the team’s 15 assists.

Notre Dame connected on 10 3-pointers and outscored the Demon Deacons 18-10 on second-chance points.

“A lot of times, the rule of thumb is long shots equal long rebounds,” said Wake coach Danny Manning, “and we didn’t get enough long rebounds.”

Though Notre Dame scored the game’s opening points on free throws from Durham, it was the Demon Deacons who controlled the first 20 minutes.

Spurred by Childress’ return to torch the Irish defense for 20 points, and a rare offensive outburst from Isaiah Mucius, who entered the game averaging less than seven points per game but delivered nine in the frame, Wake led 41-36 at the half. Mucius finished with 13.

Six Irish players scored in the frame as Notre Dame had four different opportunities in late-half situations to tie or take the lead but never got closer than a single point. Prentiss Hubb struggled mightily from the floor in the half, going 0-for-8 on the heels of Saturday’s 2-for-7 first-half performance.

Notre Dame hosts Georgia Tech Saturday at noon.

“It’s big,” Brey said of the win. “Talk about a home-stand, it’s … let’s get another one. We can’t look … when you’re in this league, where we are now, you’re living day-to-day man.

“Now let’s see if we can sweep Georgia Tech, that will be a challenge, and win another one at home. Johnny said that as soon as we got in the locker room.”

Las on the Hunt; Tripucka to be Honored

ISD Video | Mike Brey Post-Wake Forest

ISD Video | TJ Gibbs & Nate Laszewski Post-Wake Forest

ISD Video | Wake Forest Head Coach Danny Manning Post-Notre Dame

Irish Sports Daily
Final Box Score 

 

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