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Notre Dame Basketball

Tigers Get Past The Irish

March 6, 2019

Clemson needed Wednesday night’s game more than Notre Dame did.

A good, but not great season for the Tigers to this point is still much better than Notre Dame’s 2018-19 campaign.

A bubble team, Clemson was playing to enhance its NCAA Tournament resumé while Notre Dame has been playing for pride for a while now.

The Irish have dealt with injury issues throughout the season and been forced to rely on young players playing key roles. Wednesday was more of the same as DJ Harvey was a late scratch with a hamstring pull.

Given those factors, the Irish probably played better than many would have expected, but it was not enough.

Notre Dame played hard until the very end, but Clemson was able to pull it out in the end, leaving South Bend with a 64-62 victory.  

The Irish fall to 13-17 overall and 3-14 in ACC play while the Tigers improve to 18-12 overall and 8-9 in the league.

Clemson led 63-61 with 18 seconds to play, but a missed free throw kept Notre Dame in the game.

An airball three from TJ Gibbs was rebounded by Nate Laszewski, who was fouled and sent to the line for a one-and-one with 3.1 seconds left. The freshman made the first, but missed the second and the Irish’s hopes were dashed.

“That’s kind of been us,” said Mike Brey. “I feel for our guys because we put ourselves in position and we defended well enough. I made a comment after the Louisville game, ‘we always score 61.’ We went up a point, but it still wasn’t enough. 

“I feel for Nate. It’s tough. He made the tough one. The first one is the tough one, but he’s going to be a heck of a player for us.”

John Mooney had another big game for the Irish, scoring 18 points with 20 rebounds for his 13th double-double in the ACC and 19th overall. Gibbs chipped in with 14 and Dane Goodwin added 12.

“John Mooney is unbelievable,” stated Brey. “He needs three months off. I’ve never seen anything like what he’s doing. It’s just too bad we’re not winning to highlight him more.”

Marcquise Reed led Clemson with 22 points while Elijah Thomas added 14.

Clemson grabbed a 10-9 lead six minutes into the game and maintained that lead for the next 13-plus minutes of the first half, extending the advantage to as much as nine midway through. But Notre Dame refused to quit, fighting back each time it looked like the Tigers were on the verge of running away with it.

A pair of free throws from Reed gave Clemson a 28-21 lead with three minutes to play in the half, but the Irish closed the stanza on a 12-5 run and Gibbs’ three-pointer with 27 seconds left tied the game 32-32 as the two teams headed to the locker room.

Mooney had 10 points and nine rebounds in the first 20 minutes while Gibbs added nine points. Goodwin chipped in with seven.

Reed led the Tigers with 10 points in the first half.

The Irish took the lead coming out of the break on a layup from Laszewski, but the Tigers eventually pushed their lead to six, 47-41, seven minutes in. But again, Notre Dame stubbornly hung around.

With under six minutes to play, Mooney drilled a three-pointer to put Notre Dame back on top 55-54. Gibbs banked in a three from the top of the key two minutes later to make it 58-54.

After a pair of Clemson buckets with two minutes remaining, the game was tied 58-58.

A free throw by Goodwin gave the Irish a one-point lead, but a pullup from Reed with just under a minute left gave the Tigers a one-point lead of their own. A turnover by freshman point guard Prentiss Hubb on the ensuing possession forced the Irish to foul and a pair of free throws from Reed stretched the lead to three with 26 seconds left.

Hubb was able to get a quick layup on the other end as the Irish again put the Tigers on the free throw line. This time it was Shelton Mitchell, who made one of two, giving Notre Dame a chance with less than 20 seconds to play.

“It’s hard for us to really get someone to really want to make the play or take the shot,” explained Brey. “We’re just not very confident there.  A one-possession game, even a tie game with the ball, it’s a big hurdle with this group right now. 

“Could we get one before this thing ends? I’d love that, but it’s who we’ve been.” 

Irish Sports Daily
Final Box Score
Irish Sports Daily
Final Notre Dame Stats


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