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Notre Dame Basketball

Second-half eruption leads Buckeyes past Notre Dame

December 8, 2020

No margin for error.

No bench.

No defense – not in the second half Tuesday night inside Purcell Pavilion, where members of both the Notre Dame football and women's basketball teams brought a bit more to the atmosphere with their attendance.

It was a formula for a come-from-ahead loss for the Fighting Irish, 90-85, to No. 22 Ohio State in the annual ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

After it had commanded the boards to a 21-15 advantage in the first half, Notre Dame was outrebounded 17-14 in the second half as the Buckeyes (4-0) struck for 18 second-chance points.

“I just thought we couldn't get our hands on a couple of defensive rebounds that really would have made a difference,” said Irish coach Mike Brey. “And credit Ohio State: they made a few more physically tough plays around the rim that hurt us.”

The Buckeyes exploded for 56 second-half points and in the process erased a 42-34 halftime deficit; moreover, they expunged an 11-point deficit with less than 15 minutes to play.

Notre Dame was hampered by the early exit of senior post Juwan Durham, who fouled after just eight minutes of floor-time in the second half. Durham finished with just 22 minutes in the contest.

“It was a weird night for Juwan,” Brey said. “He actually got into a little bit of a rhythm, and then he got his fourth. That hurt us. We need him in there.

“We just were a little tired. Our freshmen, we're throwing them in against Ohio State and they're trying. They're working their butts off.”

All those elements spoiled a career-high scoring effort from sensational Irish guard Prentiss Hubb, who torched the Buckeyes for 26 points. The junior captain hit on five of nine 3-pointers and contributed six rebounds and assists. Cormac Ryan set the early tone with 15 first-half points for Notre Dame, but the first-year player from Stanford was held scoreless in the second half.

With the Irish down three, 88-85, Hubb and Nate Laszewski, who closed with 17 points and nine boards, could not get free for a potential game-tying shot, and a turnover out of bounds near mid-court sealed Notre Dame's second loss in three games.

“We're down three, so they were playing the three-point line hard,” Hubb said. “They were corralling us a lot, and I think that I just needed to make a better decision on that play.”

E.J. Liddell was the primary culprit for Ohio State in the second half as the sophomore post tallied 17 of his team-best 19 points after the break. Liddell also had a dozen boards. C.J. Walker and Justice Sueing each contributed 16 for the Buckeyes, who also brutalized the Irish with their bench.

Ohio State's subs combined for 23 points in 53 minutes; Notre Dame got four points in 23 minutes from the freshman tandem of Tony Sanders Jr. and Matt Zona, who logged considerable minutes after Durham fouled out.

A highly efficient Irish offense torched the Buckeyes' defense for 50% shooting from the floor in the opening half, as they hit 16 of 32 from the field. The Irish also hit five 3-pointers, but the Buckeyes remained within striking distance largely because they converted 7-for-15 from long distance.

Up next is a trip Saturday to Kentucky, which dropped out of the national rankings amidst a three-game losing streak but still boasts an athletic, deep roster with size likely to present matchup problems for the Irish.


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