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Notre Dame Basketball

State-ment win: Notre Dame rolls on road at N.C. State

February 5, 2022

It was a tale of two halves in both the first and second halves Saturday afternoon.

Notre Dame’s start to the first half and close to the second was more than enough against listing host North Carolina State.

With a quintet of double-digit scorers, including a team-best 15 from Paul Atkinson Jr., the Fighting Irish notched a 69-57 win against the host Wolfpack (10-14, 3-10 Atlantic Coast Conference).

Notre Dame had opened the game on an 11-0 run and led by as many as 17 in the first half, but it needed to rally from behind in the second half with a game-closing 21-13 run that lifted the Irish to 5-2 on the road in ACC play.

“Proud of our group,” said ND coach Mike Brey. “You get off to such a great start, and you know you’re not going to escape without a run from N.C. State. And they made a great one. We really recovered. We’ve been in this situation before where we’ve come out of timeouts after a team has made a run on us in the second half and we’ve made a run right back. We really did, we were efficient. Our zone helped us.”

Up both 35-28 and 37-30 in the early moments after the intermission, the Irish (16-7, 9-3 ACC) then were forced to withstand a 10-0 Pack run that brought to life the announced crowd of 13,690 inside PNC Arena.

Notre Dame steadied itself courtesy a Trey Wertz 3, part of his 12-point effort in his return to his home state. Blake Wesley, who bounced back from a trio of subpar performances with a 14-point, four-rebound outing, then added an emphatic breakaway-dunk and another bucket in the paint for a 44-40 edge.

N.C. State, led by Terquavion Smith’s game-high 19 points that included a poster-worthy dunk, then twice got as close as two points but never any closer.

The Irish also fended off their hosts with essentially a six-man rotation, after ND senior post Nate Laszewski went down in the first half with what Brey termed a “bone bruise.”

“I’m really proud of our group, because we had to do it without Laszewski most of the game,” Brey said. “It’s a bruise, so it’s nothing structural. He should be back Wednesday.

“I’m really proud of our group, man. We’re a confident group, especially on the road. I think that’s five road wins now. But we got a chance. We got a chance. Lot of work to do, but we’ve done a lot of work already. We’ve put a lot of money in the bank. Today helped.”

Indeed, the Irish secured their fifth road win in ACC play after they managed just three all of last season.

Dane Goodwin and Prentiss Hubb combined for 25 points; Hubb established the early tone with five quick points, including a 3-pointer to open the game’s scoring, and Goodwin had a 12-point, 10-rebound double-double.

Too, the Irish showed their veteran savvy and versatility; after racing ahead of the Pack early, Notre Dame utilized a more deliberate, patient approach to pull away late.

“The change of tempos. We played fast early, we were getting down the floor and getting stops,” Brey said. “The second half we talked about we’re going to have to grind and slow it down some and play some zone, make it a little bit of a slower game. I thought we adjusted to that well, because kids really wanna run. They don’t want to play slow.

“The zone helped us and our patience offensively helped us. I thought Trey Wertz was fabulous. When we’ve had seven guys, our rotation all playing well, maybe it’s six-and-a-half with Laszewski today, then we really have a chance.”

Now at worst a half-game out of first place in the ACC behind Duke as the regular season heads into its final four-week stretch, the Irish return home Wednesday against slumping Louisville and get four of their next six league games at home.

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