Irish Tame Wolfpack
It wasn’t the runaway victory it looked like it was going to be at one point, but it was still a victory for Notre Dame as the Irish defeated North Carolina State 81-72 in Raleigh on Saturday afternoon.
The win moves Notre Dame to 21-7 overall, 10-5 in the ACC while the Wolfpack see their overall record even at 14-14 and conference mark fall to 3-12.
The Irish led by as many as 23 in the second half, but NC State battled back and got within single-digits with three minutes to go. With the win in the books, Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey may now appreciate the chance for his squad to have some game pressure and it handled the test in the final minutes.
Matt Farrell made a pair of free throws and Steve Vasturia made four in the final minute to seal the victory for the Irish. VJ Beachem led Notre Dame with 27 points, knocking down seven of 12 three-point attempts. Bonzie Colson had 13 points and seven rebounds while Farrell and Vasturia had 11 apiece.
Dennis Smith Jr. scored 16 points while Maverick Rowan added 15.
The Irish led 41-28 at the half. Both teams traded baskets to start the second half with the Irish still shooting a very high percentage. After a big dunk from Austin Torres and a three from Beachem, the Irish lead extended to 19 with 15:44 to go in the game. Another Beachem bucket gave him 19 for the game.
The second half just got better and better as the Irish continued to stay hot from the field really not giving the Wolfpack any chance to get back into the game. Smith Jr. and the Wolfpack really struggled from the floor shooting around 40 percent and Smith Jr. was just 4 for 11 from the field.
The Irish led 61-45 at the midway point of the half still shooting a high percentage at 57 percent. A Vasturia three stopped nearly a three-minute scoring drought for the Irish. The lead was 13 at the under eight-minute TV timeout.
Smith Jr. made a driving layup to cut the Irish lead to 10 as the Wolfpack crowd started to find their voice. The Irish started going cold, making just one of six shots to allow NC State to get back into the game. A three-point play by Colson stopped the Wolfpack run, getting the lead back to 13. The was 11 at the final TV timeout of the game with 3:52 to go.
Beachem’s final trifecta pushed the lead back to 14, but NC State scored the next seven to cut that in half before the Irish’s free throws closed it out.
The Irish were coming off an 84-76 road victory on Tuesday against Boston College, while the Wolfpack were coming off a 97-73 thrashing at the hands of North Carolina on Wednesday.
The Irish opened the game on a 9-4 run with five early points from Beachem. The Wolfpack opened making just two of their first eight shots. Austin Torres was the first off the bench and immediately made his presence felt with an offensive rebound that led to a made three by T.J. Gibbs. After a hot start, the Irish cooled off considerably shooting one for eight at one point.
The Irish led 18-16 at the midway point of the half. Gibbs picked up some slack with a few nice hustle plays and became the game's leading scorer with seven points. A Beachem three with over seven minutes left in the half gave the Irish an eight-point lead, their largest of the game at 25-17.
Smith Jr. snapped an over four-minute field goal drought for the Wolfpack with a transition layup. Rowan then hit a three a few minutes later to give the Wolfpack their first made triple of the game. The Irish led 32-24 at the final TV timeout of the half with 3:10 to play.
Matt Ryan knocked down a couple of big threes as the Irish continued shooting the lights out in the first half. A 7-0 run ballooned the lead to 13 after a beautiful transition layup by Beachem.
In the first half, Notre Dame shot 61.5 percent from the field and 54.5 percent from three-point range. Colson and Beachem led the Irish with 10 points apiece in the first 20 minutes. The Wolfpack shot 40 percent in the half and just one of 10 from three. Rowan led the team with seven points.
Player of the Game: V.J. Beachem. He scored 27 points, shooting 10 of 16 from the floor including 7 of 12 from beyond the arc.
Turning Point: Beachem hit back to back threes to blow the game open early in the second half, giving the Irish a 23-point advantage.
Up Next: The Irish take on Georgia Tech next Sunday night in South Bend.