The Notre Dame Fighting Irish men’s basketball team fell short in the final minute against the #1-ranked Virginia Cavaliers, losing 62 to 57.
The Irish were led by BONZIE COLSON, who put up an incredible double-double (24 points, 15 rebounds) in just his second game back after missing 2 months with a broken foot. Martinas “The Bird Whisperer” Geben added 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Irish, and Matt Farrell and TJ Gibbs combined for 17 points but shot just 5-for-22 from the field. ND shot 37% from the field and 30% from deep against Virginia’s pack line defense, which is among the top in the nation in nearly all defensive statistical categories.
Virginia’s high scorers were Devon Hall and Ty Jerome, who scored 17 and 13 points, respectively. The Cavaliers shot 42% from the field and 46% from deep, winning despite being out-rebounded by the Irish 37-30, likely due to the fantastic 3:1 assist-to-turnover ratio UVA had, with 15 assists and just 5 turnovers.
After trading leads and buckets for the majority of the first half, the Cavaliers opened up an 11-point lead late in the period, led by Ty Jerome and Devon Hall, who combined for 17 first half points. The Virginia defense shut down everyone on Notre Dame except BONZIE COLSON, who looked fantastic but had to carry the team on his back throughout the first 20 minutes. COLSON had 18 and 9 at the intermission, while his teammates had scored just 9 points. However, at the end of the half, the Irish chipped away at the deficit and cut it to 5 at the half, down just 32-27.
Very important to note - Virginia sophomore guard Kyle Guy (14.3 ppg, 39% from three point range on the season) went down with a left knee injury late in the half, and was not putting much weight on his left leg as he was helped off the floor. This was a big blow for the Cavaliers’ offense.
In the second half, the Irish almost immediately cut the deficit to one on a Matt Farrell three to start the half and some BONZIE and Bird Whisperer buckets a couple minutes later. Guy reentered for Virginia, but didn’t stay out there long and was sent back to the bench, clearly not 100%. He did return, though.
Meanwhile, ND continued to play well down low with Bird Whisperer and BONZIE, and the Irish took a 4-point lead with about 12 minutes to go. Virginia responded, though, scoring 4 quick points to take a lead on an EMPHATIC dunk by Mamadi Diakite. The Cavaliers pushed their lead to 6 with 7:30 to play, as the Irish struggled mightily to manufacture offense.
ND refused to die, though, cutting it to 55-54 with about 3 minutes to go on the back of BONZIE COLSON (who else?). Virginia responded with a really impressive Devon Hall bucket and a stop on the defensive end, though, giving them the ball and a three-point lead with less than three minutes to play.
That lead extended to 5 after a couple free throws. A contested three from Farrell gave the Irish hope, cutting the deficit to 2 with about 2 minutes to go. On the other end, a loose ball rebound grabbed by both De’Andre Hunter and BONZIE COLSON was deemed a jump ball, with Virginia retaining possession. The Irish got a stop, though, and had the ball down 2. Farrell missed a deep three, though, giving the ball back to UVA.
After getting a stop, ND had a wild possession that ended with an air-balled three by BONZIE and a shot clock violation. From there, Virginia sewed things up by hitting their free throws, and the Irish lost 62 to 57.
ND fell to 18-13 and 8-10 in ACC play, while Virginia improved to 28-2 and 17-1 in conference play.
The Irish will be the 10-seed in the ACC Tournament next week, beginning with a game against the 15-seed.