The Notre Dame Fighting Irish men’s basketball team lost their 2nd game of the season tonight, falling in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge to the #22 Ohio State Buckeyes by a final score of 90 to 85 at Purcell Pavilion.
The Irish were led by Prentiss Hubb, who scored a career-high 26 points fueled by 5-of-9 shooting from deep while also dishing out 6 assists and grabbing 6 rebounds. Nate Laszewski had himself a nice little game as well, just narrowly missing out on a double-double with 17 points and 9 rebounds while making 5-of-7 from the field.
Cormac Ryan had an exceptional first half for ND, scoring 15 before the break, but failed to add to his total in the second half, finishing with 15 points, 4 assists, and 3 rebounds on the evening. Dane Goodwin chipped in 16 points and Juwan Durham had 7 points and 9 boards for Mike Brey’s squad as well.
On the Ohio State side, the Buckeyes were led by E.J. Liddell (19 points, 12 rebounds, 3 blocks) and Justice Sueing (16 points, 4 assists). Other nice games were turned in by Duane Washington Jr. (13 points, 4 assists), Justin Ahrens (12 points, 4-of-8 shooting from long range), and C.J. Walker (16 points, 8-for-8 from the free throw line).
OSU shot 47% from the field and 48% from deep while the Irish struggled to get many stops. The Buckeyes also did a good job winning the turnover battle over an Irish program known for almost always besting their opponents in that metric (OSU: 8 turnovers, ND: 13). The Irish, meanwhile, had a nice day shooting the ball, making 51% overall and 46% from deep while narrowly out-rebounding the Buckeyes 34 to 32.
ND and Ohio State started the game off in a streaky fashion, as the two teams traded runs and leads throughout much of the first half.
Game's seen some crazy runs so far. #Irish go from up four to down five, then up five, then tied, then up seven, now down one (26-25) with 6:14 left. #liketennis— Tom Noie (@tnoieNDI) December 9, 2020
However, over the final three minutes of the 1st, the Irish rattled off an 8-0 run behind buckets from Ryan, Durham, Hubb, and Laszewski, taking a 42-34 score into the intermission as various Irish players chipped in to that performance.
8-0 run for the Irish to close the first half.— Irish Sports Daily (@ISDUpdate) December 9, 2020
Notre Dame 42
Ohio State 34
Cormac Ryan: 15 points, 2 rebs
Prentiss Hubb: 8 points, 4 rebs, 4 assts
Nate Laszewski: 8 points, 7 rebs
Dane Goodwin: 7 points
In the second half, the Irish didn’t relent early on, stretching their lead to as much as 11 behind some great plays from Hubb and Laszewski and a few dunks from Durham. However, the Buckeyes refused to go away that easily, cutting their deficit down to 4 at around the 12-minute mark.
From there, the Buckeyes hung around, chipping away at Notre Dame’s lead until Juwan Durham picked up his 5th foul with 8:45 to go, giving OSU a couple free throws to take a 62-61 lead. Losing Durham, the Irish looked a bit tired trying to play with 6 players (2 freshmen) as the Buckeyes jumped out to a dangerous 69-64 lead, but Goodwin and Hubb knocked down a couple big shots from deep to keep it close.
After tying it at 75 with about 3 minutes to play, Washington Jr. responded with his own long-range bomb to re-secure OSU’s 3-point lead. A couple Hubb free throws narrowed the gap, but E.J. Liddell had a strong put-back, and-one bucket to extend Ohio State’s lead to 4 at the 2:20 mark. Laszewski quickly knocked down a three, though, keeping the Irish alive.
The Irish simply couldn’t get a stop down the stretch, though, especially without Durham protecting the rim. Ohio State consistently got into the lane and attacked the hoop, and pulled away behind some inspired play by Liddell. Still, the Irish had a chance to tie in the waning moments, but couldn’t even get a shot off, turning the ball over with 2 seconds to play and leading to OSU ultimately winning 90 to 85 after a couple free throws.
The 1-2 Irish play next on Saturday, December 12th, when they will head down to Lexington to challenge the Kentucky Wildcats at Rupp Arena. Following that match-up, Notre Dame will play games against #10 Duke, Purdue, Syracuse, and #18 Virginia to close out the calendar year — things might get worse before they get better for this team that’s still trying to find its footing but showing some life after a rough season opener a couple weeks ago.