This afternoon the Notre Dame Fighting Irish men’s basketball team (6-2, 0-1) welcomed the Boston College Eagles (4-5, 1-0) to Purcell Pavilion. This is the 32nd time the two teams have met, with Notre Dame leading the all-time series 21-10. Notre Dame is undefeated (12-0) against Boston College since they joined the ACC in the 2013-2014 season. The Eagles (along with the George Tech Yellow Jackets) are designated as permanent home-and-home series with the Irish. Mike Brey is 15-1 against Boston College at Notre Dame.
The game started with the two teams looking pretty evenly matched. With four minutes expired from the clock, Juwan Durham made his presence known with a dunk to make the score 5-4, BC up. Nate Laszewski also quickly made his presence known with a three-point shot, followed by a layup and a trip to the foul line in which he sunk one shot. And just like that he added six points to the board. However, Boston College was making more of their shots than the Irish, and with 11:00 left in the half, BC was up 18-13.
The turnover struggles were real for Notre Dame today, with nine turnovers in the first nine minutes of the game. The tempo of this game was definitely on the side of the Eagles, but with 9:40 left in the half the Irish started to turn it on. TJ Gibbs and John Mooney each made baskets, edging the score closer 23-17 ... and then Steffon Mitchell from Boston College sunk a three to make it 26-17 BC.
Trying to reset, the Irish took a timeout, but it didn’t seem to help much as with 8:21 remaining in the half the Irish were behind 31-19. Prentis Hubb, however, wasn’t ready to lay down, hitting a three-point-shot to edge the Irish a bit closer, 31-22.
The turnovers continued to plague Notre Dame, with a total of ten turnovers at 6:36 in the half, which is a lot for a team that typically averages 9.5 turnovers per game. Brey will have to address this issue at the half.
At 6:02 Rex Pflueger got called with the foul, and then again with 6:01; yes, two fouls in one second. Then the Eagles fouled Dane Goodwin and sent him to the line, where he sunk two buckets. 33-24 Boston College. Hubb then tried to sink a three with just over five minutes left in the half, but it bounced off the rim.
More than three minutes expired with neither team sinking anything until Gibbs finally made a layup with 2:11 remaining in the first half. 33-26 Eagles. BC came right back though, and Jay Health sunk a three to make the score 36-26. Boston College, coming in today on a four game losing streak, certainly didn’t play that way in this first half. As the two teams headed to the locker room, BC was still up, 38-28.
Let’s take a look at the numbers. In the first half the Irish made 32% of their three-point shots (9), 57% of their two-point shots (16), and 11% of their free throws (3). Boston College made 47% of their three-point shots (18), 47% of their two point shots (18), and 5% of their free throws (2).
Now onto the second half. BC picked up right where they left off, sinking a three-point shot (Derryck Thornton) in their first possession of the game. But Pflueger responded with a three of his own. Mooney got a nice two-point shot inside, and the Irish were still down by ten, 43-33. And then at 16:26 Gibbs made a three-point shot, creeping closer to Boston College, only down by seven, 45-38 BC. In the opening minutes of the second half, the buckets seemed to be falling easier for the Irish.
Even though ND’s baskets did seem to fall easier in the second half, Boston College’s offensive rebounding combined with Notre Dame’s unusually high turnovers kept the Eagles on top. Gibbs stepped up and made a big three-point shot with 14:22 (49-43 BC), followed by another Gibbs three at 12:30 (54-48 BC), and the Irish are within six. The Irish continue to be outplayed, but they most definitely are not giving up this afternoon.
With 8:43 in the half, Boston College had their biggest lead of the day (12 points), with a score of 62-50. The Irish continued to show flashes of brilliance, but just not quite enough to close the gap. Down by 10 with 6:07 remaining (66-56 BC), Hubb stepped up and made a three to cut the BC lead down to seven.
TJ Gibbs went to the line with 2:24 remaining, sinking both shots, and bringing the Irish to within five (70-65), and the Irish are still showing some signs of life. Then with 1:08 on the clock, Durham sank a bucket and it’s a three-point game (70-67). Notre Dame on a 8-0 run in the last 3:28. But BC came back and Heath sank a three to put BC back up by six with 36.3 to go.
21.2 to go and Gibbs headed to the line, sinking both, and now BC was up by four (73-69). Notre Dame then got possession back after the successful trap. Mooney got the ball to Durham, and he snuck in the layup and now ND was within two points of BC (73-71). Then Gibbs fouled Thornton who then headed to the line and missed, and ND got the rebound. Gibbs shot with 2.9 seconds, missed, was fouled, and headed to the line. The first shot did not go in. He then sunk the second shot and the Irish are down by one point. (73-72) Mitchell (BC) gets it in to Heath and ND immediately fouled BC to send them to the line. Heath missed the first one, ND gets possession of the ball and immediately called a timeout. 1.5 seconds left in the game. ND sent the ball into Goodwin who tried a shot from mid-court and missed. Final score, BC 73 - ND 72. What an incredible game, and a heartbreaking loss.
Here are the game stats for the two teams. Notre Dame made 33% of their three-point shots (24), 42% of their two-point shots (30), and 25% of their shots from the foul line (18). Boston College made 45% of their three-point shots (33), 52% of their two-point shots (38), and 3% from the foul line (2).
I’m pleased with the fact that even though at one point ND was down by 12 points, they never gave up. Brey always knows how to keep these guys in the game. They do, however, need to get this turnover issue under control.
The last time BC beat ND was on Feb 4th, 2004.
Next up for Notre Dame, Detroit Mercy, on Tuesday, December 10th at 6pm ET.
Cheers & GO IRISH!