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Notre Dame Basketball

Lack of Offense Dooms Notre Dame in 70-60 Loss at Pitt

February 3, 2024

It was a back and forth first half in Pittsburgh as Notre Dame (7-15, 2-9) and the Panthers (14-8, 5-6) traded the lead four times. 

The second half was a different story as Pitt took a 28-22 halftime lead and turned it into an easy 70-60 victory as the Panthers never let the Irish take the lead in the final 20 minutes. 

"We competed,” stated Notre Dame head coach Micah Shrewsberry, who has seen his team lose six games in a row. “It's hard to slow this team down. They can get hot in certain moments. We've been a good defensive team for the whole season, but we haven't been the last three or four games." 

Markus Burton picked up two fouls in the first two minutes of the game, which was a bad omen for the night as the Irish have yet to find any type of consistency on offense this season. 

The bright spot for Notre Dame was once again its defense. Notre Dame held Pitt to just 38 percent from the floor and a scoring drought of over five minutes where the Irish jumped out to a six-point lead seven minutes into the contest. 

Pitt also kept Notre Dame in the game with a 0-for-9 start from three-point range. 

Perhaps the most telling stat of the game came from the first half. Notre Dame had seven players score, but no player had more than four points in the scoring column. 

Notre Dame did show some fight coming out of halftime scoring a quick eight points to tie the game at 30, but Pitt responded with a key 9-0 run. 

The Panthers also hit 6-of-10 from deep in the second half, while the Irish managed just two treys.

Blake Hinson led the Panthers with 17 points on just seven shots, while Carlton Carrington added 16 points. 

"They moved some pieces and some parts,” Shrewsberry said of Pitt’s second half offense. “I think they did a good job of finding those guys with passes, kicking across, pick and roll and everything else. Credit to their guards and the unselfishness they play with.

Shrewsberry also saw his big men give almost nothing offensively once again on Saturday night. Kebba Njie finished with four points on 1-for- 5 shooting. Carey Booth scored two points on three shots in just seven minutes and Matt Zona scored three points on two shots off the bench. 

The three big men also managed to pull down just four rebounds combined in the game. 

Now, Notre Dame did outscore Pitt 28-22 in the paint, but it was the Irish guards getting into the lane for layups and runners. 

"We struggle to score in the paint,” explained Shrewsberry. “We have to get easy baskets somehow. We're just trying to focus more on ball movement and attacking closeouts. We felt like we could do it and did a pretty decent job at it." 

Burton scored 14 of his 17 points in the second half, but it wasn’t enough as Notre Dame had a scoring drought of over five minutes, which allowed Pitt to take a commanding 58-44 lead.

Saturday was also the first time in a while that Notre Dame demonstrated some frustrations on the floor. The Irish had bad body language at times and Shrewsberry was given a technical for running on the floor to chase a referee. 

"I just thought the guy got fouled,” Shrewsberry said when asked why he got the technical. 

Despite playing just 26 minutes, Burton finished 6-of-13 from the field with four rebounds, three assists and no turnovers. Valuing the basketball has been an area Shrewsberry has challenged Burton in since ACC play started and he’s seeing growth from his freshman point guard. 

"He's getting to the free throw line,” said Shrewsberry. “Three assists, no turnovers is great growth from him. I think the last two games, he's played a great floor game for us." 

Tae Davis did play his best game in a while as he scored 16 points, but Notre Dame as a team shot just 39 percent from the field and 26 percent from deep. 

The Irish also finished with just seven assists on the night. Burton’s three led the team as four other players recorded one. 

Shrewsberry knows his team has to get better at ball movement, but he also knows his team has struggled with it all year so it’s not an issue that will likely be fixed this season. 

"That's us as a team,” said Shrewsberry. “We'll get better. We have to change some parts and we'll get better." 

Life doesn’t get easier for Notre Dame as the Fighting Irish will travel to Duke on Wednesday night. Tip is set for 9:00 PM ET on ACC Network. 

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