The Notre Dame Fighting Irish found themselves back in Brooklyn as the three seed for this year’s ACC Tournament. On Thursday night, they met six seed (and nemesis) Virginia for the right to fill the last slot in Friday’s quarterfinals.
Notre Dame came out hot, building a 14-4 lead in the early going. Virginia momentarily held the Irish momentum in check, but Notre Dame was able to keep the pressure on, holding a 21-15 lead at the under-eight timeout. At the time, the Irish were eight of 16 from the floor.
The rest of the first half would see the Cavaliers clawing their way back into the game, coming within four points. However Notre Dame would respond, particularly on the defensive end, taking a 32-26 lead into the locker room. At halftime, Bonzie Colson led the Irish with 11 points, and V.J. Beachem had seven rebounds.
The second half started with a flurry of action, including a Beachem layup and a Rex Pfleuger breakaway reverse dunk to put the Irish up by ten. At the 15:46 mark, Beachem hit a three to push the lead to 15, and the Hoos needed a timeout. Virginia didn’t score their first points of the second half until about 14:40.
Virginia made a few threats in the second half, but its tough to do anything when your leaders - London Perrantes and Kyle Guy - are 1-16 from the floor with six minutes left in the game. The Cavaliers began fouling with a little over two minutes left in the game, down 15. The Irish were content to make just about half of their free throws, which was just enough to earn a 13-point win.
With the win, Notre Dame defeats Virginia in basketball for the first time since the early 80s, and advances to the semifinals of the ACC tournament for the third straight year. Bonzie Colson registered his 19th double-double on the year, pouring in 21 points and grabbing 10 boards. Farrell added 14 points, and Beachem and Vasturia both contributed 12.
The Irish get a rubber match in the semifinals against the Florida State Seminoles at 9pm Friday night.