Photo by Rick Kimball/ISD
Notre Dame Basketball

Irish Fall to Mountaineers 83-71 in Second Round

March 18, 2017

They're called "Press" Virginia for a reason, and the Irish found out the hard way on Saturday afternoon in the second round of the NCAA tournament in Buffalo. The Irish committed 14 turnovers and couldn't find its way out of an early shooting slump, leading to an 83-71 defeat at the hands of the Mountaineers who advanced to the Sweet Sixteen for the first time since 2015.

The loss stopped the streak of two consecutive Elite Eight appearances by the Irish and Notre Dame finished the 2016-17 season with a 26-10 record.

"They're really good," Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey said. "They got the look. They can play for a while. Bob's (Huggins) done an unbelievable job, like reinventing with full-court pressure. It's brilliant and really a unique preparation to try and deal with it."

The Mountaineers shot 50% for the game, including 57.1% from downtown and were led by Jevon Carter's 24 points. The Irish shot just 40.7% from the field, 35.7% from beyond the arc. Bonzie Colson led the way with a game-high 27 points.

With under three minutes to go, Carter hit a step back three with the shot clock winding down to give the Mountaineers a nine-point lead. A couple of misses by the Irish sent West Virginia to the line where they iced the game from there.

Vasturia opened the half with two nice drives to the basket as it took the Irish just seconds to get on the board compared to the first half when they took three and a half minutes to score. The West Virginia press continued to befuddle the Irish as they got a couple turnovers to extend their lead.

"I don't think it shocked us," explained Vasturia. "If you look at those first four, five possessions, we got really good looks at the basket, we just didn't knock them down. And those are shots we usually make and we expect to make those shots. I think that's part of the reason they got off to such a good start and that's why we were in a little bit of a hole."

At the first media timeout of the half, the Irish trailed 48-41 as they forced a few Mountaineer turnovers, preventing them from taking a bigger lead. A Colson three got the Irish within four but Tarik Phillip answered right back for the Mountaineers.

The Mountaineers started to get scorching hot from the outside, hitting three consecutive threes to give them a 10-point lead. It was a 57-47 lead for the Mountaineers with 11:25 remaining in the game.

Colson picked up his fourth foul midway through the half and Coach Brey chose to keep him on the floor and Colson answered right away with a corner three. The Irish however continued to struggle with turnovers, preventing them from getting closer. The West Virginia lead was still nine at 63-54 with 7:06 to go.

Colson hit yet another three to get the Irish close but the Mountaineers would answer back nearly every time.  They led 70-61 with 3:34 to play.

The Irish opened the game missing their first five shots as West Virginia seemed ready for the game right from the tip. The Mountaineers jumped out to a 10-0 lead after a Daxter Miles three, leading to Mike Brey having to call timeout barely three minutes into the game.

Bonzie Colson stopped the run with a nice drive to the basket off a feed from Steve Vasturia. The Irish continued to struggle early missing shots and committing turnovers, playing right into the Mountaineers hands.

Beachem was the story of Notre Dame's tournament run a year ago, but the senior couldn't buy a shot in this year's tournament. The Fort Wayne native went just 2-for-14 on Saturday in his last collegiate game.

"My teammates did a great job of finding me open shots like they usually do," said Beachem. "You know today I just wasn't able to knock them down. You know, of course, they wear you down a little bit. Maybe that's why some of them were short, but I just didn't knock them down tonight."

However, a quick 7-0 run by the Irish got them back into it thanks to Matt Farrell who hit back to back jumpers to cut the lead to 15-11 with 11:10 left in the half.

A three-point play by Jevon Carter stopped the Irish run. An 11-4 spurt put gave the Mountaineers their largest lead of the game at 26-15. However, V.J. Beachem put a stop to that with an open three. With 6:58 to play in the half, the Mountaineers still held a ten-point lead at 28-18.

The Irish shooting started to get back to normal thanks to big buckets from Colson and Matt Ryan. Two free throws by T.J. Gibbs made it a one possession game as the Irish made it a game once again. At the final TV timeout of the half, the Mountaineers held a 32-29 advantage.

At halftime, the Mountaineers led 42-35 shooting 45.7% from the field and being led by Carter's 13 points. The Irish shot 43.5%, 50% from beyond the arc. Colson was the high scorer for the Irish with nine points.

Player of the Game: Carter. The junior guard shot four for five from downtown and eight for 15 overall, giving him 24 points for the game. He hit some clutch shots in the second half to keep the Irish at bay.

Unsung Hero: Nathan Adrian. The senior forward had just three points but added five rebounds and four assists. Adrian was a huge player down the stretch making some big hustle plays to ice the game for the Mountaineers.
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Irish Fall to Mountaineers 83-71 in Second Round

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