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Notre Dame Basketball

Old Notre Dame Escapes Georgia Tech in Overtime

January 8, 2022
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Grit. 

It's defined Notre Dame's wins this season and Saturday night was no different for Mike Brey's Fighting Irish. 

Notre Dame (9-5, 3-1) trailed by six points at the half, but rallied and hit big shots when it mattered the most to win at Georgia Tech (6-8, 0-4) 72-68 and move to 3-1 in ACC play. 

If you've watched the series between the two programs in Atlanta, then you would have known this game was coming. The margin of victory at McCamish Pavilion has been an average of 3.25 points since the Irish joined the ACC.

"They've all been like that here," Brey said following the win. "You can feel it coming the last 10 minutes. I'm really proud of our group. We've really grown in some areas of mental toughness and believing we're going to finish. 

"To find a way to finish it - our old guys were really good. Blake (Wesley) was fabulous. There's a neat vibe about this group now starting with the Pitt game, Carolina and tonight. They feel they're going to figure it out."

It wasn't pretty by any means as the Irish didn't only trail at the half, but seniors Dane Goodwin, Prentiss Hubb and Nate Laszewski were all held scoreless in the first 20 minutes. 

Yet, they kept fighting. Hubb scored seven points and dished out nine assists. Goodwin scored 14 second half points and has now finished in double figures in 14 straight games. Laszewski continued to struggle, but hit a dagger from deep to put the Irish up 70-64 with 1:49 left in overtime.

"I'm really proud of those three guys and I would add (Robby) Carmody as far as being a part," explained Brey. "They've traveled a long journey to want to be good, better and special. They've set the tone for us, starting with the Kentucky game. They've all made big plays at different times and have shown experience and toughness.

"They kind of deserve what they're getting. Great kids, great attitudes and they've done everything we've asked them to do."  

Paul Atkinson Jr. kept Notre Dame within striking distance in the first half, where he scored 12 of his 16 points on 6-for-6 from the field despite not getting the start, which was by design.

"Cormac is our best defender and we thought to put him on (Michael) Devoe," Brey explained. "I didn't think Paul was playing very well. I didn't think Paul's edge was up and I really challenged him the last couple days. I thought he responded big-time to we need more and you need to be more active. 

"He responded like a man. We went back to that lineup with Paul and Nate in the second half. It was a little bit two-fold. We needed more, man. He responded well." 

In the middle of the second half, Brey used a timely zone defense to go on an 11-3 run.

"That saved us a little bit," stated Brey. "We rode it pretty good. It stalled them. That's when we made the run to tie it. I think what we've done in all three league wins, we've gotten out of the zone at the right time and gone back to playing man-to-man to finish the game." 

And yes, freshman guard Blake Wesley once again stole the show with a game-high 22 points, including a huge three to give Notre Dame a one-point lead with 51 seconds left in regulation. 

"I think I'm experienced enough to get the hell out of the way of great players and let them play," laughed Brey. "He's fearless. I thought he and Hubb together were having fun the last few minutes. They were driving and kicking to each other. They were yo-yoing and had the defense on their heels." 

Notre Dame will return to South Bend sitting in fourth place in the ACC and that's right where Brey wants his team. 

"I know there are 8pm games tonight and I told the guys I can't wait to look at the standings at midnight," said Brey. "We're going to be in fourth at 3-1. I actually mentioned it to them because I want them to keep dreaming it and put a banner up for regular season champions. By the way, there's a 2015 banner from the tournament. We're in the mix and we need some rest." 

The Irish will get a few days of rest before hosting Clemson on Wednesday at 7:00pm. 

 
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