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Notre Dame Basketball

Marina Was Right About ND Owning The 3rd Quarter

April 26, 2018

By: FightingIrishRadio  

"Mississippi State knew we were coming back. We saw the fear in their eyes in the third quarter, and the third quarter is always ours and always will be ours."
Marina Mabrey to reporters in the locker room after the national championship game

After being held to a season-low 3 points in the 2nd quarter, ND outscored Mississippi State 24 to 11 in the 3rd quarter to knot the score at 41 heading into the final quarter. With that performance and Marina's quote in mind, I thought I'd dig into ND's performance in the third quarter this past season.

Looking at average scores by quarter across the full slate of 38 games shows what appears to be a remarkable consistency. ND outscored opponents in each quarter: 1Q - 21.0 to 16.8, 2Q - 20.1 to 16.1, 3Q - 21.4 to 16.4, and 4Q - 21.8 to 17.9. ND did enjoy the greatest average point differential of 5.1 points in the third, but that doesn't really tell the story.

Of the 152 regulation quarters across the season, ND only lost 35 quarters and registered a scoring deficit in just seven third quarters. However, six of the third quarter 'losses' occurred from the start of the season through the first Louisville game. From that point on, only Louisville in the ACC championship game outscored the Irish in the 3rd a 7 point deficit that turned a 2 point ND lead at the half in a 5 point hole heading in the 4th a game ultimately lost by two points. 

The third quarter was pivotal in seven victories when ND trailed at the half including the last four games in the NCAA playoffs. ND's 3rd quarter dominance was also key in two other games tied at halftime.

Across those nine games Oregon State (down 8 at the half), Tennessee (down 12), Georgia Tech (tied), Florida State in ACC tourney (down 1), Villanova (tied), Texas A&M (down 2), Oregon (down 6), UConn (down 7) and Mississippi State (down 13) ND scored a total of 209 third quarter points to 131 for the competition outscoring the nine by an average of 8.6 points (23.2 to 14.6). The difference was even greater when it mattered most. In NCAA play, from Villanova through the final, ND averaged 23.8 points in the 3rd quarter to 12.6 for the opposition an 11.2 point advantage.

The five NCAA opponents made a combined 24 of 78 field goal attempts in the 3rd quarter (30.8%) Only UConn shot well in the third 8 of 15 (57.4%) and ND still outscored the Huskies in the 3rd by 4. The nation's highest-scoring team only topped 20 points in one quarter against ND the 2nd when the Huskies looked dominant in outscoring the Irish 27 to 10.

ND blitzed Villanova by 20 in the 3rd quarter 28 to 8. After hitting 66.7% of its field goal attempts in the 2nd quarter, Villanova made just 3 of 12 (25%) in the 3rd.

Texas A&M scored 16 points in the 3rd to ND's 23, as the Irish erased a two-point halftime deficit. After shooting 55.9% in the first half, the Aggies only made 6 of 22 field goal attempts in the 3rd (27.3%). ND shot 50% in the 3rd.

Oregon scored 25 points in the 2nd quarter as the Ducks shot 62.5% and built a six-point lead at the half. ND scored 21 in the 3rd while holding Oregon to just nine third quarter points as Oregon shooters only made 17.6% of their field goal attempts (3 of 17). 

The strong third quarters in each of the last five NCAA games led to an ND scoring output in each second half of at least 44 points while no opponent topped 37. In the second half of the final five games, ND outscored Villanova by 26 (53-27), Texas A&M by 8 (45-37), Oregon by 16 (44-28), UConn by 7 in regulation (45-38), and Mississippi State by 16 (44-28).

ND also won each 4th quarter over the last five games, but the strong 3rd quarters on both offense and defense were key to winning it all.

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