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Notre Dame Basketball

Mooney's milestone a footnote in crushing loss

March 5, 2020
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John Mooney broke an Atlantic Coast Conference record, tied a staunch Notre Dame program mark and Prentiss Hubb nearly set a career-high in what would have been, finally, a signature win this season for the Fighting Irish.

Instead, Mooney’s double-double mark is a footnote --- 16 for the season in ACC play to break Tim Duncan’s previous mark of 15, and 25 on the year to tie Luke Harangody for the program’s all-time mark --- and Notre Dame now has no path at an NCAA Tournament bid beyond an improbable run in the league tournament next week in Greensboro, N.C.

The Fighting Irish fell, 73-71, to visiting and No. 7-ranked Florida State Wednesday night before a spirited crowd of 7,165 inside Purcell Pavilion.

Mooney scored all of his 16 points and grabbed nine of his 11 rebounds in the opening 20 minutes, as Notre Dame constructed a 42-35 halftime-lead.

The Fighting Irish led by 11 on multiple instances in the second half, but the FSU duo of M.J. Walker (21 points) and Trent Forrest (15) proved too much for the hosts to overcome.

“They’re really a physical team,” Mooney said. “They’re aggressive, they’re up in the passing lanes, so they did a good job in the second half. No doubt.”

Hubb had 19 of his 24 points in the first half to finish just one of his career-high set earlier this season against Georgia Tech. He and Mooney combined for 35 of the Irish’s 42 first-half points, but they were largely bottled up in the second half.

“They made tough shots,” Hubb said. “The ball didn’t go in the rim as much as we wanted it to in the second half.”

FSU coach Leonard Hamilton praised Hubb.

“(Hubb) kind of had his way with us the first half,” Hamilton said. “He’s an excellent player. He’s smart, savvy, makes great decisions with the ball.

“When we went in at halftime I believe those two guys had 35 of their 42 points. Mooney was obviously on fire and that just tells you a little bit about the ability of Coach (Mike) Brey to get them ready to play.”

POSTSEASON DAGGER

Notre Dame had entered the game at 59th in the NCAA’s NET rankings, No. 60 in the BPI and No. 61 in Ken Pomeroy’s rankings.

A win against the Seminoles --- aside from snapping the program-worst mark of 21-straight losses to ranked foes --- would have provided a potential path to an at-large NCAA Tournament bid.

Notre Dame needed to sweep its two home games this week against FSU and Virginia Tech Saturday on senior day and win one or more games in the ACC Tournament next week in Greensboro, N.C,

Instead, the Fighting Irish could be an at-large NIT selection with a couple more wins. Their only path now into the NCAA Tournament would require them to win four games in four days.

With the loss, Notre Dame slipped into a three-way tie for seventh place in the ACC standings with one game to play. The Fighting Irish are guaranteed not to have to play on the ACC Tournament’s opening day Tuesday.

 
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