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Notre Dame Basketball

Overtime escape: Notre Dame fends off Boston College

February 16, 2022

The ball was not leaving the hands of Prentiss Hubb.

Not late Wednesday night inside Purcell Pavilion, as Notre Dame sought to avoid what would have been a crushing defeat to its Atlantic Coast Conference title aspirations, to say nothing of its NCAA Tournament dreams.

Teams with three wins in two-plus months simply do not go on the road and win at the ACC’s co-leader.

So Hubb, the Fighting Irish’s ever-unfazed senior point guard, stood near midcourt, dribbling away precious seconds until the moment presented itself.

Dart right, ball-fake right, spin back around left, high, so high, off the glass, and tumble in.

Breathing room, enough.

Part of Hubb’s own personal six-point close inside the last 10 seconds of Notre Dame’s 99-95, overtime-win against visiting Boston College in a game with 14 lead changes and 13 ties.

“It’s just like natural,” Hubb said. “I think it’s all the work I’ve put in over the all the years I’ve played basketball. I just keep a calm and collected head and when I’m taking those plays

“I knew that if we set a ball-screen that they were probably going to try to switch it, so I had to try to drive my man and the first one I shot like a crazy runner (late in regulation that just missed). I had to try to counter that move, because he thought I was probably going to try to do the same move.”

That bucket, plus four free throws – the first pair with seven ticks on the clock, the clinchers with just two – never seemed in doubt. Not to Hubb.

“Oh, yeah. Most definitely,” Hubb said of knowing the shots would fall.

Instead of falling to disaster, Notre Dame improved to 11-1 at home, 19-7 overall and kept pace with Duke atop the ACC leaderboard with a 12-3 ledger.  

“Heck of a league win, man, and I knew it was going to be hard,” Irish coach Mike Brey said. “Give them credit, offensively they shot it and made some tough shots. Really could have broke our spirit a couple times.

“Gotta give this group credit, they just keep playing and trying to figure it out. I thought we never got discouraged, even though they were very hard to guard tonight.”

The Irish, in essence, won the game at the free-throw line. With the interior work of Paul Atkinson Jr. and Nate Laszewski, as well as the late-game work of Hubb and Blake Wesley’s consistent ability to beat his defender off the bounce, Notre Dame garnered 39 free-throw attempts – and converted 33. The Eagles (9-15, 4-10 ACC) hit 13 of their 18 from the stripe.

Hitting so many clutch, late-game free throws “is obviously a huge weapon,” said Dane Goodwin, the senior guard who kept the Irish afloat in the first half with 18 points. “I don’t think we were ever nervous. We stepped up to the line and made the shots when we needed to.”

Goodwin finished with 23 points, Wesley added 18 and Nate Laszewski added 16 off the bench – hitting all five of his free throws and also adding six rebounds. Atkinson, Hubb and Cormac Ryan combined for 38 points.

Boston College drained 10 3s in the contest, and got 23 from DeMarr Langford.

But the Eagles, who rallied from down 67-62 late in the second half, could not put away the Irish.

Notre Dame also fouled out BC bigs James Karnik and Justin Vander Baan as well as forward Gianni Thompson.

Now, with their first-place tie intact, the Fighting Irish travel Saturday to Wake Forest, already a 20-game winner under coach Steve Forbes, for a 1 p.m. tip (regional network broadcast).

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