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Notre Dame Basketball

Notre Dame does all the small things in 1st ACC win

January 16, 2021
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All the small things.

A pair of early and-1 buckets for Nate Laszewski to set a tone, even if the free throws did not fall.

Juwan Durham's deep, turnaround-fadeaway jumper as the shot-clock expired that swished the net.

Prentiss Hubb with an unyielding effort to save a loose ball out on defense, back to his teammates, as Boston College tried to threaten Saturday in the second half.

Dane Goodwin with multiple key threes, including a pump-fake, side-step triple that ballooned host Notre Dame's lead to a dozen late inside Purcell Pavilion.

Everything that Notre Dame either had not done or not executed with enough regularity crystalized in a 80-70 win for the Fighting Irish (4-8, 1-5 Atlantic Coast Conference), which got its first league win since they quelled this same group of Eagles (3-10, 1-6) March 12, 2020, in the ACC Tournament.

“We got loose balls, we got deflections, we were flying around a little bit more on the defensive end,” ND coach Mike Brey said. “We competed better. We competed better. These guys are great competitors. You don't get scholarships to Power-5 schools unless you know how to compete.

“I don't know if we dug in and competed to the level we needed to compete on the road-trip in Virginia. That's something, we just have to do it in practice. Every day we practice. We can't go light. We can't have a shooting practice. We've got to feel what it's like to play some one-on-one and two-on-two and dive on the floor a little bit. I think that helped our guys' juices flow a little.”

Juwan Durham had a double-double for the Irish – 12 points, 11 boards in 28 minutes – after Brey had doubted his senior post would be available due to back pain.

“I was in a lot of pain from (Friday) night until this morning,” Durham said. “I would say probably around 12:30, something like that, I got some treatment with our trainer, got in the hot tub a little bit and just tried to prepare myself mentally for the game.

“And luckily I was able to do that.”

Notre Dame had five players in double figures, led by Dane Goodwin's 21 points on the strength of five-for-nine shooting from 3-point range. Nate Laszewski added 16, Prentiss Hubb 13 and Cormac Ryan 10.

The Irish credited ratcheted up practice-intensity on the heels of consecutive losses at Virginia Tech and Virginia as critical in Saturday's bounce-back performance.

“We came out ready to play today,” Goodwin said. “That competitive nature that we all have just hasn't shown up at certain times, I guess.

“We just needed that. We needed to come out strong. We needed to come out aggressive. And I think we did that.”

Not that Notre Dame solved all of its woes, even if just for this one game. The Irish still had multiple extended scoring droughts, including one of more than five minutes in the second half as Boston College whittled its deficit back within six with less than seven minutes to play. The Eagles were led by Steffon Mitchell's 16 points and 13 rebounds.

Still, one game after it started one-for-16 from 3-point range in a blowout-loss at Virginia, Notre Dame connected on 14-for-31 against the Eagles and had six different players sink at least one shot from behind the arc.

The Irish also committed just seven turnovers, mustered a one-rebound edge for the game (37-36) and had 21 assists on 31 made field goals. The Irish's 42-32 halftime lead marked the first time they had led by double-digits in an ACC game since the tournament last March.

Notre Dame led by as many 17 points in the game, 63-46, and it commanded the lead for a season-best 36 minutes, 29 seconds.

Notre Dame's scheduled game Monday against Howard in Washington, D.C., a special contest scheduled for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, has been postponed due to COVID-19 protocols in Howard's program. The Irish are next set to travel to Miami January 24 at 6 p.m. (ACC Network).

The Irish, Brey said, will seek a replacement opponent this week and also vowed to make the trip to D.C. next season.

“I talked to (Howard coach) Kenny Blakeney on Thursday night,” Brey said. “He said, 'Coach, we had seven guys just get out of bed. They had symptoms, fevers. My goal is to hopefully play a MEAC game next weekend.'

“We are going to do it next year. We will be there in 2022. I'm disappointed because I think it was going to be an unbelievable story, especially given what's going on in our country and everything that's happened in the last week. A really educational opportunity for my players. We're going to play it next year.

“Picture it next year. MLK Day. Packed house. And Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are going to be in that gym. Especially Kamala Harris. She's a Howard grad and she's going to be working the refs, probably.”

 
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