In a marquee midweek matchup, the 14th-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish hosted the 12th-ranked Virginia Cavaliers Tuesday night. Tony Bennett’s Virginia squad is the one ACC team that Mike Brey and Notre Dame have been incapable of figuring out. Coming into the game, the Irish had lost nine straight games to the Cavaliers.
Early on, it looked a lot like the usual Notre Dame versus Virginia basketball games we’ve seen since the Irish joined the ACC. Virginia’s strong defense got the better of Notre Dame’s outstanding offense, as the Irish would go scoreless for long stretches. V.J. Beachem came out cold. Shots weren’t falling. And with 11 minutes left in the first half, the Irish were only shooting 30 percent. At the same time Virginia was shooting 58 percent. Not ideal.
Things would even out, however, as Notre Dame pulled themselves back into the game. The pace would pick up down the stretch of the first half, and behind 14 points from Bonzie Colson, the Irish went into halftime down 27-26. The type of high-scoring half we’re all quite used to, of course.
Notre Dame would hang around for a bit at the beginning of the second half, but would ultimately lose their grip. At the under-eight timeout, the Irish found themselves down nine. They would pull within five, but it all went downhill from there. The final tally: 71-54.
Bonzie Colson finished with 20 points and three rebounds. Notre Dame shot only 17 percent from three point land, and 41 percent from the floor.
When you play a team that likes to play at Virginia’s pace, possessions are a little more precious than normal. Notre Dame missed too many early shots, open shots, and free throws to be successful. Virginia is a good road team, but you’d like to see the Irish shoot better at home.
When you consider the way the season has gone so far for the Irish, it’s starting to look like they’ll beat the bad teams, lose to the good teams (with a few blowouts), and maybe pull off a few close wins they probably shouldn’t. Vintage Notre Dame basketball.