The Notre Dame Fighting Irish men’s basketball team lost on the road against the North Carolina Tar Heels, falling 83 to 66 this evening in a game that was very close until the final 6 minutes.
The Irish were led by John “John Mutton” Mooney, who was 5-for-5 from three point range in the first half and finished 6-for-6, scoring 18 points and adding 6 rebounds. Martinas “The Bird Whisperer” Geben was the only other guy who truly came to play for the Irish, as he scored 18 points and snared 7 rebounds.
Meanwhile, the Irish trio of starting guards (TJ Gibbs, Matt Farrell, and Rex Pflueger) shot 5-for-34 from the field and scored just 22 points between the three of them. When those three don’t score, clearly Notre Dame won’t win many games.
The game initially started well for the Irish, as ND took an early 5-2 lead behind a couple baskets from Martinas “The Bird Whisperer” Geben. However, Geben picked up his 2nd foul early on, picking up a charge on an aggressive take to the hoop. Immediately, UNC went on a 10-0 run to take a 12-5 lead.
The Irish responded, though, with some points from Elijah Burns early on, and then much more so on the back of John Mooney, who could not miss from deep. Every time the Tar Heels threatened to extend their lead, Mooney would drain another three.
The Irish trailed by just 4 points at halftime, despite UNC shooting 50% and ND guards Matt Farrell and TJ Gibbs — who have averaged 47 combined points per game over the past two games — scoring 7 combined points on 0-for-13 shooting in the first half.
The second half did not see the Irish exactly come out firing, as the Tar Heels extended their lead to 10 points about 7 minutes in, and ND struggled to manufacture much offense as Farrell continued to struggle shooting the ball and the rest of the team was unable to contribute much help.
However, Farrell finally drained a 3, Geben got himself a bucket, and at the under-12 media timeout the Irish found themselves only down 5. After a very questionable offensive foul call on Gibbs, he and Mooney each buried a three pointer to pull the Irish within one with about 9:30 to play.
The Tar Heels kept their lead, though, and with a 4-point advantage with a little less than 6 minutes remaining, they took advantage of an Irish implosion and went on a 9-0 run over the course of about 1:45, taking a 13-point lead into the final media timeout. That run would end up being a 16-3 run when it was all said and done.
The Irish just didn’t have enough to mount any sort of comeback, and the Tar Heels finished with an 83 to 66 victory.
Notre Dame shot 38% from the field and 37% from deep, while also shooting an abysmal 52% from the free throw line. UNC, meanwhile, shot 53% from the field and 38% from deep while out-rebounding ND 42-29. Both teams did a good job of taking care of the ball, as they combined to dish out 36 assists and commit just 12 combined turnovers.
Joel Berry II led the way for North Carolina, scoring 21 points. Theo Pinson added 16 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 assists, and Cameron Johnson and Kenny Williams combined for another 27 points. Luke Maye scored just 8 points and grabbed 8 rebounds, shooting 3-for-11 from the field.
The Irish fall to 15-11 (5-8 ACC) and will play at Boston College on Saturday. The Tar Heels, meanwhile, improve to 20-7 (9-5 ACC).