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Notre Dame Basketball

Familiar Crossroads: Notre Dame manhandled by rival Hoosiers

December 18, 2021

INDIANAPOLIS – Notre Dame teetered, wobbled; it never fully crashed to this hardwood canvass Saturday afternoon inside Gainbridge Fieldhouse.

Nonetheless, any chance for the Fighting Irish to score consecutive wins for the first time in more than a month faded with Notre Dame’s predictable offensive drought, lack of both bench production and size, not to mention a lack of sharing the ball in a 64-56 loss to rival Indiana.

Fittingly, Trayce Jackson-Davis – the Hoosiers’ All-American forward – punctuated the game’s end when he outmuscled the Irish for a rebound – his 12th of the game to go along with a game-high 17 points.

The loss left Notre Dame a lackluster 4-7 in the 11-year Crossroads Classic which has annually pitted Butler, Indiana, Notre Dame and Purdue against one another in a rotation fashion.

Moreover, it again showcased all of the Irish’s shortcomings – despite their plucky resilience to rally from a double-digit second-half deficit to twice tie this contest before seeing Indiana secure the win under first-year coach Mike Woodson.

“We just got some stops,” ND guard Dane Goodwin said of his team’s ability to stage a rally. “In that time period, middle of the second half, and we started sharing the ball little bit better, too.

“We just need to do that for a full 40 (minutes). We can’t go in spurts and expect to win games like that. We put ourselves in position, just couldn’t get it done.”

As the game unfolded, even with a rare 1-3-1 zone, double-teams and the sporadic triple-team, the Irish had no answer for Jackson-Davis, who also registered a pair of blocked shots and altered myriad other attempts.

Down by as many as 10 in the second half, the Irish mustered a rally after a gritty sequence. Cormac Ryan was whistled for a Flagrant-1 foul on his takedown of Jackson-Davis as the Hoosiers star post appeared poised for a third dunk.

But Jackson-Davis’s Indiana teammate, Parker Stewart, was whistled for a technical foul after he shoved Ryan.

Goodwin converted both tosses to pull the Irish within six, 46-40, and six more points – four from Goodwin, a spin off the glass from Paul Atkinson Jr. -- saw Notre Dame claw even, 46-all.

The two teams again were tied after Jackson-Davis and Atkinson each hit one of two free throws.

However, Notre Dame failed to take the lead on multiple possessions, never again drew even with the Hoosiers (9-2) and ultimately succumbed for the fourth time this season in five games against Power 5 competition.

Goodwin paced the Irish with 15 points, Atkinson Jr. added 11 and freshman phenom Blake Wesley chipped in 14.

“No, it’s been frustrating for us,” Brey said of his 22nd team’s inability to play two full halves. “It’s continued and we’ve just got to kind of help them and work with them. We’ve played a heck of a schedule.

“I love that we were in position. That was a big punch we took early. I think shows it’s a group that’s going to keep swinging.”

Notre Dame (4-5), which has not won back-to-back games since Nov. 13-16 against Cal-State Northridge and High Point; committed 14 turnovers.

Worse, it barely shared the basketball at all; the Hoosiers dished out 16 assists while the Irish had a mere five.

The Irish were sharp early, beating the larger Hoosiers (9-2) on the boards and also capitalizing on a 9-for-21 start from the field.

In fact, Notre Dame led for more than 12 consecutive minutes in the opening half – from the 14:40 mark all the way down until Trayce Jackson-Davis’s bucket vaulted IU on top, 28-27, with 2:31 left until the break.

Jackson-Davis abused Nate Laszewski once again in the paint 70 seconds before halftime, and Notre Dame whimpered into the locker room down by three, 30-27.

Notre Dame scored just one bucket – Wesley’s confident triple from the top of the key – the final 7:16 into the break, as its lead dissipated from a nine-point edge into the deficit it could never overcome.

Prior to that famine, the Irish offense had 15 combined points from Goodwin and Wesley; they led by a game-high nine points, 24-15, after Trey Wertz’s and-1 three-point play. That Wertz drive down the lane, when he crossed over a defender, absorbed contact and finished off the glass, followed just moments after Goodwin had buried a curl-screen 3 in the corner.

Alas, that sequence might well have been the high-point for Notre Dame, which fell to 1-4 this season against Power 5 competition.

It’s a quick turnaround for the Irish, who host Western Michigan – 4-6 and coming off of an 11-point win Friday at home against Aquinas – Monday inside Purcell Pavilion. Tip is 8 p.m. (ACC Network).

Mike Brey Notebook | Loss to Indiana

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