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Notre Dame Basketball

Notre Dame Hangs Around But Falls 83-66 At North Carolina

February 12, 2018
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The Irish hung around for a while but ultimately fell apart late as the North Carolina Tar Heels won on Monday night in Chapel Hill, 83-66.

The Irish shot just 38 percent on the night and struggled offensively from the get-go. John Mooney scored 18 points, hitting six three-pointers. 

"I love how we fought," said Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey. "They had about a three-minute stretch where they were unbelievable offensively. We couldn’t absorb that. We gave ourselves a chance.

“They really defended our guards well and our guards had been playing well. It was a big difference in the game.”

With the loss, the Irish fell to 15-11 and 5-8 in ACC play. The Tar Heels shot 53 percent on the night, and Joel Berry scored a game-high 21 points. The Tar Heels improved to 20-7 on the season, and 9-5 in ACC play.

A three-point play by Theo Pinson gave the Tar Heels a seven-point lead as the crowd started to come alive. An acrobatic layup by Pinson sent the crowd into a frenzy as the Tar Heels looked to be in complete control with about five minutes to play. At the final media timeout of the game, the Irish trailed 76-63.

The Irish shot just 12 of 23 from the free throw line, which was very uncharacteristic.

The Tar Heels opened up the second half hot as they looked to build a big lead. The Irish remained close but were unable to get either Matt Farrell or T.J. Gibbs going offensively. The Tar Heels led 48-42 with under 16 minutes left in the game.

Another three-pointer for Kenny Williams gave the Tar Heels a nine-point lead, their largest of the game. Despite Farrell not shooting well, he tried to get other players involved to try to cut into the Tar Heel lead. However, the Tar Heels didn’t stop hitting shots, and a three-point play by Berry gave them their first double-digit lead.

"I was worried about getting scorched from out there," Brey said of North Carolina's guards. "We only gave up six, but when they’re playing well, they can put numbers up so easy. I thought the only chance we had in here was to score in 80’s and try to score with them."

The Irish found a little success offensively to cut the lead to five, 56-51 with 11:38 remaining. Back to back threes by Mooney and Gibbs cut the lead to one as the Irish offense began to pick up. With 7:52 to play, the Irish were still down, but only by a 60-57 count.

The Tar Heels out-rebounded the Irish 42-29.

The Irish jumped out a good start as Martinas Geben had a very strong first few minutes with a few offensive rebounds, a blocked shot, and a layup. But the big man picked up two early fouls and went to the bench just three minutes into the game.

A 10-0 Tar Heel run gave them a 12-5 lead with 14:36 to play in the first half as Coach Brey called time. The Irish were unable to get close as they struggled shooting the ball, especially from three-point range. Despite the shooting issues, the Tar Heels couldn’t pull away as the Irish defense continued to have a strong half. The Tar Heels led 16-14 with 10:49 remaining in the half.

Mooney’s third three-pointer of the half cut the lead to one as the Irish started to find success from beyond the arc. The Irish continued to hang close throughout the half, keeping the Tar Heel crowd at bay. The Tar Heels led 34-31 with three minutes to go before half.

Mooney’s fifth three-pointer of the half got the Irish within two before Berry answered back with a floater. The Tar Heels led 38-34 at the half, shooting 50 percent from the field. Berry and Williams led the Heels scoring with nine-point apiece. The Irish shot just 35 percent in the half but Mooney’s 15 first-half points kept them well in the game.

Player of the Game: Geben. The big man was a bright spot for the Irish as he totaled 18 points and seven rebounds. He was outstanding when called upon and should be a focus offensively going forward.

Unsung Hero: Mooney. He was big off the bench especially in the first half as he was a perfect five for five from the field. Look for him to continue his hot streak as the season winds down.

Up Next: The Irish travel to Chestnut Hill on Saturday afternoon to take on the Boston College Eagles at 4:00 p.m.

Irish Sports Daily
Final Box Score

 

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