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Notre Dame Basketball

Triple-Threat: Irish Hit 3s, Win 3rd Straight

February 5, 2020
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Notre Dame sprinted into the half Wednesday night on a 10-4 run, taking a nine-point edge into the intermission.

Soon enough, the Fighting Irish ran all the way to their third-straight Atlantic Coast Conference win --- their longest such streak since Dec. 30, 2017-Jan. 6, 2018 --- with an 80-72 triumph against visiting Pittsburgh.

Buoyed by T.J. Gibbs’ game-best 21 points and John Mooney’s 18th double-double of the season, Notre Dame (14-8, 5-6) incrementally pulled away against the Panthers (14-9, 5-7) throughout the second half inside a sparsely populated Purcell Pavilion as a steady snow fell outside.

“Eighty, 80,” said ND coach Mike Brey. “As long as there’s 80 on the board, it’s a good night.

“Great win, great homestand. It kind of keeps us … we’re within shouting distance.”

Improving to 8-2 on the season when it scores 80 or more points, Notre Dame shook off a sluggish start --- it trailed by six points, 19-13, on the heels of the Panthers’ 12-0 run --- and again proved, despite a severely limited bench, its offensive firepower can keep it in ballgames. The Fighting Irish hit 10 3s, 10 free throws --- they’ve got 55 points from the stripe in their past three games --- shook off those early offensive doldrums to finish with 19 assists, leading for nearly 33 minutes and by as many as 19 points in the second half.

Nate Laszewski added 11 points in 21 minutes off the bench for Notre Dame; he connected on three triples and also went 4-for-5 from the free-throw line.

“This was a different game for us, this was a different type of team to defend,” said Pitt coach Jeff Capel. “Everyone that we’ve played, up to this point, has at least one game that we can kind of relax off of. That you don’t have to go out to, don’t have to close out to.

“Most of them have more than one guy that we’ve played so far. So this one was different. Especially when they played Nate, when they put (Laszewski) at the 5. They’re a little bit more difficult to defend.”

It was Prentiss Hubb who ignited the Irish into the break, with back-to-back 3-pointers. The first one came as the shot-clock wound toward zero and lifted the hosts to an 39-33 edge; the latter came inside the final second before the halftime-buzzer.

“Just timely,” Gibbs said of Hubb, who finished with nine points and seven assists. “And we needed it right there at the end of the half and when he was able to do that, it kind of, we went to the halftime with a little bit of a deep breath, like, ‘We got this.’

“When we have a leader, P-Hubb is a leader on our team, and when we have a leader like that, it makes everything so much easier for everybody else.”

Limited in recent weeks as the Irish extensively deployed a smaller lineup, 6-foot-11 post Juwan Durham notched 11 points --- just his second double-digit performance in 2020 --- to accompany four rebounds, three blocks and two assists against zero turnovers in 19 minutes.

Durham said the Irish needed to turn the page from a spate of close losses this season, including five ACC games by just 12 total points.

“It was just about time,” Durham said. “We lost (two in a row), and we just knew that we had to keep fighting and keep playing as hard as we can. Long as we do that, we’ll be fine.

“Looks like we did that tonight.”

Now, the Irish try to take some of their recent home success onto the road. They’ve won twice away from Purcell Pavilion --- at Syracuse and at Georgia Tech. They begin a three-game road gauntlet at Clemson on Sunday, followed by trips to Virginia (Tuesday) and Duke (February 15).

“We did what we needed to do here and now we’ll deal with this road thing,” Brey said. “This road thing needs to be looked at as an opportunity.

“I know it’s the toughest stretch we’ve probably ever played in our program but it’s an opportunity.”

ISD Video | Mike Brey Post-Pittsburgh 

ISD Video | Juwan Durham & TJ Gibbs Post-Pittsburgh

ISD Video | Pittsburgh Head Coach Jeff Capel Post-Notre Dame

Irish Sports Daily
Final Box Score 

 

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