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Notre Dame Basketball

Extra Painful: Irish Fall in OT

February 11, 2020

Sometimes, stats lie.

How else to explain an overtime-loss without allowing a single field goal?

Notre Dame didn’t yield a bucket in the extra stanza inside John Paul Jones Arena Tuesday night at defending national champion Virginia.

The Fighting Irish still wound up on the losing end of an ugly, 50-49 loss to the Cavaliers, when John Mooney couldn’t score to end the game in regulation and Rex Pflueger’s 3-pointer from the corner lipped off in the spiraling seconds of the overtime frame.

“God, I’m sick for our guys; we played our hearts out,” said ND coach Mike Brey. “Give credit to Virginia. Again, they’re really hard to score against and we had a couple possessions down the stretch where they just kind of shut us down.

“Disappointed for us, because I think we’re playing pretty well. We played fearlessly. We put ourselves in position. You’ve got to tip your cap to Virginia, they made some big-time defensive plays.”

Leading in the game’s waning moments of regulation, Notre Dame saw Mamadi Diakite force an extra session when his late bucket left it 47-all.

It was a pair of Diakite charity tosses and a single tally from Braxton Key that helped Virginia outscore its guests, 3-2, in the bonus session and halt the Irish’s four-game winning streak.
Mooney’s regulation-shot under the bucket was blocked out of bounds, and T.J. Gibbs’ heave with .3 seconds glanced off the front of the iron.

In overtime as the clock drifted towards zero, Prentiss Hubb found Pflueger open in the corner, and Pflueger’s shot circled the cylinder before it rolled off the iron. Key launched the ball downcourt to expunge the remaining seconds.

“I love Hubb, and you really aren’t going to design something against them and get it,” Brey said. “I love that Hubb didn’t shoot a flier [when he passed to Pflueger] and made the extra pass. Pflueger is coming off a game where he made some shots and if anybody deserved one to go in to win a game, it would probably be Rex Pflueger.”

Diakite led all scorers with 20 points, and the Irish could not overcome regulation- and overtime-ending scoring droughts of 2 minutes, 41 seconds and 3:32. Notre Dame had just two field goals in the final 9:30 of regulation and all five minutes of overtime.

“I think the defense has been pretty consistent through the years,” Brey said. “The (defensive) principles that Tony teaches are fabulous. Their reputation is well-deserved.”

After hitting five 3-pointers in the opening half, Notre Dame had been poised to start what Brey had termed the toughest gauntlet in program history with a postseason-bolstering 2-0 start on the heels of Sunday’s win at Clemson.

Both teams, however, battled scoring droughts. The Irish took a 47-45 lead on T.J. Gibbs’ 3-pointer as Virginia was mired in a more than six-minute scoring drought, but it was the only make from long-distance on their final 14 attempts.

The Cavs (16-7, 8-5) converted 7 of 11 free throws; the Irish (15-9, 6-7) were a meager 3-for-7.

The Irish even withstood their hosts 10-0 second-half run that transformed a 38-33 deficit into an 43-38 edge for the Cavs. Jay Huff went on a personal 8-0 run during the Virginia scoring binge.

Still, Notre Dame steadied itself. Gibbs’ 3 had the Irish in position to win in regulation until Diakite tied it.

Hubb, who led Notre Dame with a dozen points, tied the contest at 49-all with a smooth step-back jumper near the left wing. Mooney engineered his 20th double-double of the season and 41st of his career with 11 points and 14 boards. Nate Laszewski scored eight of his 11 in the second half.

“He’s a fearless guy, and he’s become such a leader for us,” Brey said of Hubb. “He’s such a winner.”

The Irish would not score again, as Mooney couldn’t convert a pair of free throws and every other shot-attempt went awry.

In the opening half, Notre Dame got six points from Juwan Durham, including an emphatic lob-dunk that lifted it to a 23-20 lead, and eventually led 26-22 at the intermission after Gibbs bottomed a 3 from the right-hand corner.

Diakite kept the hosts close with nine of his points in the opening frame.

“We thought it would be a rock-fight,” Brey said. “I told them it would. It was. They’re probably more accustomed to the rock-fights than us.”

It gets no easier for the Irish, who wrap up this rugged three-game road-stretch Saturday at Duke before returning home Monday to host North Carolina.

Mike Brey Notebook | Virginia

Irish Sports Daily
Final Box Score 


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