Tonight the Notre Dame Fighting Irish hosted the Wake Forest Demon Deacons, the 9th all-time meeting between these two teams. Maybe the Irish underestimated the Demon Deacons, with their 2-10 ACC conference record, but Wake Forest was certainly ready to play the Fighting Irish tonight.
The Demon Deacons got off to a quick start, up 7-2 early in the first half, when Notre Dame finally hit their first three (T.J. GIbbs). Once Notre Dame got that first three point shot under their belt, they seemed to take off. With six minutes gone in the half, Gibbs already had 13 points. Both teams had a hot shooting start to the first half with the score being 19-18, Wake Forest on top, with 12:46 left in the first half.
With just over 10 minutes left in the first half, the Irish were in the middle of a 9-0 run, making 75% from the field, when Gibbs made a two-point shot (at 10:48), to put the Irish ahead 24-22. And then, with 8:19 remaining, a dunk by Juwan Durham increased the Irish lead to 28-25. The threes just kept on coming for Notre Dame in the first half, with D.J. Harvey hitting a three at 6:49.
Durham seemed to be in a dunking kind of mood, as he made his second dunk of the night with 4:26 left in the game, followed by a three-point shot by John Mooney. The theme of the first half? Threes and dunks. And the Irish fans seem to be enjoying themselves.
As the first half drew to a close, the Irish defense was looking very tough. With just over two minutes remaining, the Demon Deacons hadn’t made a bucket in over three minutes. And then in the last minute of the game, Wake Forest made a three-point bucket, and one free throw shots, to come within one point of Notre Dame, 36-35 to end the half.
In the first half, the Irish had a scoring percentage of 51.7% (14 of 27 shots), and a turnover percentage of 17.2%. The Irish made 6 of 15 three-point shots (40%), and made 2 of 3 shots from the free throw line (66.7%).
Both teams came out in the second half running full speed ahead. With 17:49 left in the second half, the score was still close, 41-40, with Notre Dame ahead. John Mooney was having kind of an off night, and was called over to the bench with 17:34 on the clock, to have a little Mike Brey pep talk. At the first media timeout of the half (15:54), Notre Dame was up by one point, 43-42, and John Mooney was back out on the floor. And then Mooney came off the timeout and scored his second bucket, a dunk. Even with tonight being an off night for Mooney, he leads the ACC with 16 double-doubles.
With 13:18 left in the second half, Wake Forest sinks a three-point shot, to tie the game at 48-48. The two teams seemed to be evenly matched tonight, with neither team being able to secure much of a lead for very long. Hubb missed a three point shot with 12:43, and Wake Forest grabbed the rebound and headed down the court, only to turn it over. Notre Dame then took the ball back to the other end of he court, and this time Gibbs missed a three-point shot.
With 10:33, and Notre Dame down by two, Mooney sank a two-point shot and got the foul, to get the lead back, 51-50 ND. On the next Wake Forest possession, the Demon Deacons lost control of the ball, and both teams fought with everything they had to get the ball back. It was one of those nights. Wake Forest then made a two-point shot, and on ND’s possession, Mooney drew the foul and headed to the line, making both shots, ND up 53-52.
Wake Forest made a huge three with 9:03 left in the second half, to go back up by two, and on the next Irish possession Wake Forest stole the ball and got another quick two-point bucket. Wake Forest up, 57-53 with 8:42 to go. On a Mooney rebound, the Irish head back to their end of the court. The Irish don’t sink the bucket, but they do draw the foul and send Dane Goodwin to the line, who sank them both. Notre Dame down by two, 57-55.
Suddenly, Wake Forest is up 61-55, following two points at the line, and a Wake Forest steal ending in a dunk. Mooney responded on the following possession, with a layup and two points. And with 5:47 remaining in the game, the Demon Deacons had their biggest lead of the game 66 - 57. Notre Dame looked as though they were coming a big unglued.
A Mooney three-point shot, and then two free-throw buckets by Gibbs brings Notre Dame to within two points with 4:10 to go in the half. On the subsequent possession, Wake Forest got called for a travel, and Notre Dame got the ball back. Nate Laszewski heads to the free throw line with 3:32 in the second, and made one of the two buckets, bringing the Irish to within one, 66-65. And then Hubb draws the foul, and headed to the line, making one of two shots, his 11th point of the night. Tie game, 66-66.
Wake Forest heads right down the court and made an easy two point shot, and Notre Dame can’t convert on their next possession. 68-66 Wake Forest. One more easy bucket by Wake Forest brought their lead up to four, 70-66, and Notre Dame called a timeout with 46.2 remaining. Notre Dame’s Hubb went for the three-point shot and missed it, and then the Irish fouled Brandon Childress right away, sending Wake Forest to the free throw line, where they made one. 71-66 Wake Forest. Then Notre Dame’s DJ Harvey gets fouled and headed to the line, where he made both shots. 71-68 Wake Forest with 26.6 left. Notre Dame put major pressure on Wake Forest, and Wake Forest barely got the ball across the line. Notre Dame then fouled Johnson, and he made both shots, increasing Wake Forest’s lead to five, 73-68. 15.2 seconds left in the game.
With 4.2 seconds left in the game, Notre Dame fouls Brandon Childress, who headed to the line and made one point, at which point the clock ran out on the Fighting Irish. The Wake Forest Demon Deacons secured their first ACC road win this season, with a final score of 75-68.
Notre Dame finished the game shooting 35% of their three point shots (Wake Forest made 32% of theirs), shooting 44% of their two point shots (Wake Forest made 48% of theirs), and shooting 21% of their free throw shots (Wake Forest made 20% of theirs).
With only five games remaining in the season, Notre Dame will host the #20 Virginia Tech Hokies at home on Saturday, February 23.
Cheers & GO IRISH!