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Notre Dame Basketball

Hubb City: Notre Dame senior guard caps Irish's dramatic rally for win

December 28, 2021

Asked last week if a bit of a breakout-performance against Texas A&M Corpus Christi signified his return, Prentiss Hubb shrugged, smiled and said yes.

Now, however, it appears Hubb truly is back for Mike Brey and Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish senior guard scored 13 of his 15 points in the second half Tuesday night, and he hit what proved to be the game-winner with a deep jumper from the corner in Notre Dame’s 68-67, come-from-behind win against Pittsburgh before a crowd of 8,656 inside the Petersen Events Center.

“We tried to get a good look with the high pick-and-roll, and I think it kind of broke down,” said Hubb, who has 26 points in the past two games after just 67 in the team’s first 10 outings this season. “The play kind of broke down, and we didn’t have any really good looks off the initial thing. At that point, the instincts kick in, somebody has to make a play, shot-clock was winding down, so I just had to go make a play.

“I seen the shot-clock a little when it got to like five, five or seven, and I knew that we weren’t going to get anything off a dribble-penetration, so I just had to go.”

The Irish (7-5, 1-1 ACC) teetered on the brink of another lackluster league loss on the road, when the Panthers (5-8, 0-2) stymied Notre Dame on the offensive end and plodded out to an eight-point lead on multiple instances.

In fact, Pitt led 53-45 with less than eight minutes to play when Hubb buried back-to-back 3s that gave life to the Irish.

Notre Dame got a team-best 16 points from Paul Atkinson Jr., whose eight-for-eight night at the free-throw line loomed equally large. Blake Wesley finished with a dozen points in 26 minutes; Wesley also had a key late-game dish, when he penetrated into the paint and kicked to Hubb in the corner for a bucket.

Dane Goodwin maintained his streak of double-digit scoring in every game this season, finishing with 11 including three-for-four from 3-point range. Goodwin also added six boards and four assists. 

“ACC, (laughs), for us to escape here with a league win against a really good defensive team, we had a hard time dealing with them,” said Irish coach Mike Brey. “They’re a great defensive group. I’ve got a lot of respect for our guys because it looked dim a couple of times and we figured out how to come back and finish. To be 1-1 in the league, we’ll take it.”

“(Hubb) is such a winner, man. He had a tough start to the season. He didn’t play well early in the season. We started bringing him off the bench to try and help him. But we started him when we came back from Indiana the two games before Christmas. That’s the stuff he’s done throughout his career, (to say), I’m going to help my team win it. He’s tough.”

The Irish trailed deep into the second half, and they at one point had 11 turnovers against just 14 baskets, but they finished the game with seven more buckets against zero additional turnovers.

Additionally, the Irish nearly replicated Atkinson’s brilliance at the charity stripe as an entire team; Notre Dame hit 16-for-17 from the line.

Wesley overcame a pair of fouls in his first two minutes on the floor to close the opening half with eight points in limited action, matching Atkinson for team-high scoring at the intermission.

“I thought he was fearless to help us when we were down,” Brey said of the freshman Wesley, “and then he made some great passes.”

Wesley hit two of Notre Dame’s four first-half 3-pointers while Goodwin and Laszewski each added a long-distance bucket. But the Irish were just 4-for-12 from behind the arc and only 11-for-25 overall from the floor. They did convert each of their four free throws and also outrebounded the Panthers through the first 20 minutes, 17-10.

Notre Dame never led by more than five in the first half, never trailed by more than four; both teams had 7-0 scoring spurts.

The Irish finished with a 32-26 edge on the boards, but the Panthers, led by John Hugley’s game-best 18, bludgeoned ND inside with a 28-16 scoring edge in the paint.

Scheduled next for the Irish is their ACC home-opener Saturday against Duke, with tip inside Purcell Pavilion scheduled for 6 p.m. (ACC Network). The Blue Devils were forced this week to postpone their midweek game at Clemson.

“To escape with a win and to make winning plays and figure it out, proud of the group,” Brey said. “And we may play a game Saturday, I hear. Stay tuned.”

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