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Notre Dame Basketball

'Nole and void: Irish can't notch first-ever win at FSU, fall 74-70

March 2, 2022

History lives on.

That’s bad news for Notre Dame.

The Fighting Irish, with a chance to clinch at least sole possession of a second-place Atlantic Coast Conference finish and notch their first-ever win at Florida State, instead couldn’t hold a halftime-lead in a 74-70 loss Wednesday night to the host Seminoles. The loss clinched the outright ACC title for Duke.

Notre Dame, which has been virtually unstoppable when it shares the basketball and connects from behind the arc, instead had just 10 assists and shot a paltry five-for-19 from 3-point range.

Those deficiencies offset a 48-26 scoring edge in the paint for the Irish (21-9, 14-5), who still can set a new program single-season record for league wins Saturday in senior day at home against Pittsburgh.

“I think they sped us up,” said ND coach Mike Brey, who is seeking to end a five-year NCAA Tournament drought. “We had eight (assists) at half, thought we were moving the ball, a lot of it was in transition. I thought we could have done a better job when we got to the lane of kicking out and driving again. We went in and out of that. We tried to finish some plays on the first drive, and even though you have your guy beat, as we saw, their length recovers and blocks stuff and changes that. That bothered us.

“Of course, Dane (Goodwin) has those two in front of our bench, wide open. … That’s the guy we want taking them. And when those don’t go in, I’m thinking it could be a long night for us. That’s not good karma.”

Indeed, the Seminoles (16-13, 9-10 ACC) The Irish hit five of their nine first-half 3-point attempts before taking a second-half doughnut at 0-for-10; Goodwin, who’s had a career-best senior season, was limited to six points on three-for-10 shooting and missed both his long-distance attempts.

Notre Dame had entered halftime sizzling, getting five late-half buckets – three of them triples from Nate Laszewski (two) and Trey Wertz – for a 44-39 edge at the break.

But the ‘Noles opened the final frame on a 14-4 run and never trailed in the game’s final 15 minutes, 27 seconds.

Blake Wesley led all scorers with 21 points, and Notre Dame’s ACC Freshman of the Year candidate added six rebounds – though he was charged with five of the Irish’s eight turnovers.

Paul Atkinson Jr. kept his machine-like double-double work moving forward with 17 points and 10 boards.

Prentiss Hubb added 10 points, seven rebounds and three assists.

Still, with a double-bye clinched in next week’s ACC Tournament at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn and what Brey has repeatedly termed “a hell of a (postseason) resumé,” the Irish have much left for which to play.

“I told them the other day, Tuesday before we left, I’ve talked to them about, ‘Hey, man, it’s our time,’” Brey said. “We can dream big dreams in the postseason, because I think they’re realistic. I think they’re realistic. We’ll see if we can play well for our seniors on Saturday and then set the tone for Brooklyn.

“Disappointed, but we flushed it quick. I love the position we’re in; gave ourselves a chance. Florida State made some big-time players here.”

FSU had four players in double figures, led by John Butler with 16 points, eight boards and four blocked shots.  

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