Photo by Rick Kimball/ISD
Notre Dame Basketball

Irish Fall Short to Tar Heels in Greensboro 83-76

February 5, 2017

No. 20 Notre Dame (17-7, 6-5) traveled to Greensboro (N.C.) to take on 12th-ranked North Carolina (21-4, 9-2) on Sunday afternoon. The game was moved from Saturday night in Chapel Hill because of a water main break.

The Irish were coming off a 84-74 home loss to Duke on Monday night while the Tar Heels were coming off a 80-78 home win against Pittsburgh on Tuesday.

The Tar Heels built a big second half lead and ultimately held on, 83-76 as the Irish dropped their fourth straight and fifth out of six. The Tar Heels shot 49.2% for the game and were led by Justin Jackson's 16 points. The Irish were led by V.J. Beachem who scored 20. The Irish shot 44.6% for the game.

"I am proud of our group," Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey said. "We hung in there and gave ourselves a chance. They are really good. We knew we were going to have to absorb some pounding in the paint, because we played small.

"It helped us get back into the thing, but we couldn’t get over the hump. Certainly some of their stuff in the paint down the stretch kind of finally broke our spirits."

Quite frankly, I am disappointed the game Tuesday wasn’t moved to Wednesday, but I signed up for the ACC, so I am a good solider. - Mike Brey on not moving the Wake Forest game
Both teams opened up the second half trading baskets and the Tar Heels maintaining their lead. The Tar Heels continued to shoot the ball very well, especially from three-point range as Kenny Williams and Justin Jackson knocked down a couple. The Tar Heels led 54-41 at the first TV timeout of the half.

Farrell came out of the timeout knocking down a much-needed three to cut the lead to 10. The Tar Heels however, just wouldn't let up as they pounded the ball inside and the Irish could only watch. A 7-2 run by the Tar Heels gave them a 15-point lead, their largest of the afternoon.

Beachem knocked down a couple shots as he hadn't been heard from much all game. A three-point play by Beachem gave him seven consecutive points. A Farrell three cut the Tar Heel lead to seven after a 7-0 run. The deficit was nine, 70-61 going into the under eight-minute TV timeout.

The Tar Heels started to get into foul trouble and the Irish knocked down some free throws to close the gap. Kennedy Meeks fouled out with 5:14, the Tar Heel that had dominated the Irish all day. The Irish just wouldn't go away as Farrell made a driving layup to cut the lead to five with 4:10 to play.

"We scored it," Brey said of the second half run. "We opened the floor up. Playing small was the only way we were going to have a chance. We didn’t play two big and certainly VJ got going. We rode it as long as we could.

"We got it to two, but eventually, their size playing against a smaller lineup got us." 

The Irish started cold again, shooting just one of five in the first few minutes to start the game. A hot start gave the Tar Heels a 9-2 edge after a three-pointer by Kenny Williams. A couple good plays by Farrell got the Irish closer, a deep three and then a beautiful pass in traffic to Martinas Geben for a bucket.

The Tar Heels led 15-11 at the under twelve TV timeout as the Irish started to shoot better. At the midway point of the half, the Tar Heels led 17-13, shooting 57% from the field. Despite shooting under 40%, the Irish stayed close not letting the Tar Heels pull away. The two teams traded baskets for a few minutes and the Irish cold start seemed like a distant memory.

Rex Pflueger continued his strong half with another three, giving the Irish some big minutes off the bench. The Irish made four consecutive field goals to get their shooting up to 47%.  The Irish got eaten alive on the offensive glass as the Tar Heels got a huge amount of second chance points. Going into the final TV timeout with 3:59 to go in the half, the Tar Heels led 34-28.

The Tar Heels took a 42-34 lead into halftime, shooting 51.5% from the field. Isaiah Hicks led the charge with nine points on four of six shooting. The Irish shot 40.7% in the half, 36.4% from three. Farrell led the team with eight points, shooting 3 for 6.

PLAYER OF THE GAME: Isaiah Hicks. The North Carolina forward shot 6 of 10 from the field to finish with 14 points, but also pulled down seven boards on the day. Hicks seemed to either pull down a timely offensive rebound or hit a timely shot to keep the Irish from getting momentum totally on their side.

STAT LINE OF THE GAME: North Carolina won the battle on the boards 44-25. The Tar Heels pulled down 17 offensive rebound to Notre Dame’s seven. In turn, North Carolina won the battle of second-chance points 19-13 and in a seven-point loss, it was the difference in the game.

TURNING POINT: VJ Beachem knocked home a three-pointer to bring Notre Dame within 75-73 with 3:47 left to play in the game. North Carolina responded with an 8-0 run over the next three minutes to push the lead back to 10 points with 33 seconds remaining in the game.

WHAT’S NEXT: Notre Dame will host Wake Forest at Purcell Pavilion on Tuesday. Tip is at 7:00 p.m. ET.

"We don’t have much time," said Brey. "We play on Tuesday night, so we have turn this thing around really quick. It's unfortunate it pushes the game to Sunday and we have to turn around and play Tuesday.

"Quite frankly, I am disappointed the game Tuesday wasn’t moved to Wednesday, but I signed up for the ACC, so I am a good solider." 

Discussion from...

Irish Fall Short to Tar Heels in Greensboro 83-76

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4 losses in a row
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We had many chances late. The mojo has faded considerably.
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when will brey recruit a big man ? does he even try ...
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If Mooney can't contribute, we should just "downshift" for most of the game. Give lots of minutes to Rex (who needs to score more) and Gibbs. We can win with small ball.
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