The Notre Dame Fighting Irish welcomed the Miami Hurricanes to South Bend Monday night in an important game for the NCAA tournament hopes and ACC Tournament seeding for both teams. The Fighting Irish were again without the injured D.J. Harvey and Bonzie Colson, as well as Rex Pflueger, who hurt his lower back in the Boston College game. Miami had lost three straight games entering the contest, and are dealing with their own injury problems; star sophomore guard Bruce Brown had missed the past six games with the same injury that plagues Bonzie Colson.
The first half was a game of runs, with both teams exchanging leads and momentum. Martinas Geben scored the first eight points of the game for the Irish, but Miami was a hot as well. Notre Dame cooled off toward the end of the first half, as the Hurricanes reeled off a 21-9 run and entered the half leading 38-29. Geben had 12 in the first half, and Matt Farrell had 10.
The Irish came out hot early in the 2nd half, closing the game with Miami quickly. With 10:48 left, Matt Farell tied it up with a deep three, and Djogo followed it up with a three of his own, and Notre Dame managed to maintain a lead from there until there was about 6 minutes left in the game. Miami used a 10-point run to regain the lead over the Irish, and that was pretty much it. The Hurricanes held the Irish off in the end, and Notre Dame fell 77-74.
Despite a balanced effort on offense, good games from Geben, Farrell and Austin Torres, Notre Dame lost another tough game. The margin of error for the Irish is incredibly slim given the injuries, and Notre Dame simply doesn’t have enough guys, make enough shots, or get enough calls (the foul calls on every shot were brutal down the stretch) to get wins in close games.
I’m completely convinced the Irish will now officially miss the NCAA tournament. They had a shot if they won out and had a great showing in the ACC tournament, but I don’t see that happening now. Notre Dame takes on the Wake Forest Demon Deacons in Winston-Salem on Saturday.