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Notre Dame Basketball

Storm-proof: Notre Dame rebounds against Hurricanes

February 2, 2022
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Homecoming for Paul Atkinson Jr. and the ultimate bounce-back game, according to Mike Brey.

How about just calling Notre Dame’s game Wednesday at Miami exactly what it was: the game that resuscitated the Fighting Irish’s NCAA Tournament hopes inside the Watsco Center?

Paced by Atkinson’s 23-point, 11-rebound double-double and a 24-10 second-half scoring binge, Notre Dame controlled host Miami, 68-64, to get its 15th overall win and move to 8-3 in Atlantic Coast Conference play.

“I think this team was confident,” said Atkinson, a West Palm Beach, Florida, native. “I don’t think anybody was scared. We took a bad ‘L’ on Monday and had to bounce back.”

Added senior guard Prentiss Hubb, after a 15-point, six-dish game, “We wanted our extra day in Miami (Thursday) to be a good day, not a bad day with a loss.”

Though not secured until a dominant second-half effort, the Irish win was borne of the approach Hubb discussed; Notre Dame led the game for more than 33 minutes.

It held the host Hurricanes (16-5, 8-3 ACC) to 43% shooting in the game and throttled them scoring in the paint with a 44-26 edge.

The Irish likewise commanded a five-rebound edge on the glass.

“I think because I was really very upfront and vocal with our guys on Tuesday before we got on the plane,” Irish coach Mike Brey said. “I said this is the ultimate challenge to bounce back. If you can bounce back at Miami 48 hours after (getting dominated by) Duke, I think you got something. I think this team has leadership and the old guys were focused on doing something.

“That's leadership. This group has an ownership of itself.”

Notre Dame again won at Miami, as it did a year ago, and moved within two wins of assuring itself at least a .500 ledger in ACC play.

Atkinson hit on 11 of 16 shots from the floor; 48 hours after being shut out, and seeing his streak of 20 consecutive games of double figures snapped, Dane Goodwin bounced back with 14 points, 11 of them in the first half.

Goodwin helped set the early tone, even though he missed his first shot. The Irish senior captain scored five of the team’s first seven points, and his 3-pointer in the second half came after the Canes had pulled within five, 63-58, and less than two minutes on the block.

Notre Dame hasn’t lost consecutive games since Nov. 29-Dec. 3, and it won for the 11th time in 13 games after a sluggish start to the season.  

“You probably had to get one of these two in the last three days. Let’s be honest,” Brey said, in clear reference to the team’s NCAA dreams. “You probably had to get 1 of these 2 to keep your momentum going, and we did. We’re back in the mix for … when we were four to five games in (in ACC play), I started dropping, ‘Regular-season champions, regular-season champions’ (as a team goal).

“They’re chasing it.”

The stayed alive in that multi-team chase despite another off night from rookie Blake Wesley, who’s struggled badly from the floor in his past three games and was limited on this night to just five points.

Nate Laszewski had four points and five boards in a return to his home state of Florida; Laszewski is a Jupiter, Florida, native.

Cormac Ryan added seven points off the bench.

But Hubb’s steady hand and timely offense matched that of Atkinson along the interior. Hubb now has committed just two turnovers in his last 143 minutes on the floor across four games.

During that span, Hubb has handed off 16 assists.

“I can’t believe there’s a quarterbacking guard playing better than this guy right now,” Brey said of Hubb. “He senses when he’s gotta go for the jugular. …

“He’s just quarterbacked us and really helped us.”

Notre Dame has an off day Thursday in Miami, and it travels to North Carolina State Saturday before returning home next week against Louisville.

 
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