The Notre Dame Fighting Irish hosted the Penn State Nittany Lions in the second round of the NIT Saturday afternoon. The Irish donned their green jerseys - an obvious choice for St Patrick’s day, but that’s about the only positive thing that happened in South Bend.
Notre Dame did not look like the motivated, energized team that blew Hampton out in the first round last week. To make matters worse, they shot an abysmal 25 percent from the floor in the first half. They did only trail by five at halftime, though, so there was obviously a chance for a regression to the mean and a good second half.
In the second half, Notre Dame made their runs, but their play was trumped by an un-phased Penn State team lead by NBA prospect Shep Garner (15 points), Josh Reaves (18 points) and Tony Carr (24 points). They also faced some bad luck and odd officiating.
Notre Dame’s biggest second half deficit was 14 with 3:45 left in the fourth quarter. They were able to cut that to nine in the final two minutes, but that’s as close as the Irish got.
And for St Paddy’s day? The luck of the Irish? Not today. Bonzie Colson left the game after coming down awkwardly on his left foot during the fourth quarter - the same foot that kept him out of the majority of his senior season. That’s bad luck for a kid that has been a star for the vast majority of his career at Notre Dame. He would take a seat with ice on his foot, reportedly done for the game.
With around 30 seconds left in the game, Bonzie checked back in to a standing ovation from the crowd. It was a bittersweet moment; between Bonzie, Matt Farrell, and Martinas Geben, the college careers of three guys who have seen real postseason success ended in the NIT. Silver lining: it was in South Bend and the place was full. Fighting Irish fans everywhere and everyone here at One Foot Down are thanking those three guys, regardless of what happened today.
Colson finished the game with 16 points and nine rebounds, just missing yet another double-double. Farrell had nine points and four assists, and Geben had 10 points and seven boards.
T.J. Gibbs poured in 17 points. Once we’re done saying our farewells to the trio of Colson/Geben/Farrell, we can feel pretty optimistic knowing that it will be his team next year.