After having their game against the Pittsburgh Panthers dropped due to COVID concerns with the Pitt program, your Notre Dame Fighting Irish men’s basketball team instead quickly pivoted to a road game at Chapel Hill, falling to the North Carolina Tar Heels by a final score of 66 to 65 this afternoon.
The Irish were led on the day by Nate Laszewski, who had a fantastic game with 25 points, 9 rebounds, and 7-of-11 shooting from deep. Prentiss Hubb (14 points, 5 assists) and Juwan Durham (8 points, 3 assists, 2 rebounds) also turned in okay games, as the Irish had to play without starting guard Trey Wertz, who is out for the next few weeks with an injury.
The Irish shot 47% overall and 37% from long range, and after a rough start handling the ball, they only finished with 10 turnovers, which is much more Mike Brey-esque than what we’ve seen from this squad in other games this season.
On the North Carolina side, the Tar Heels’ best players were Day’Ron Sharpe (25 points, 9 rebounds) and Kerwin Walton (12 points, 3 assists), and as a team UNC shot 35% from the field and from 3. The key stat here, though, is that the Tar Heels OWNED the Irish in rebounding, collecting 48 boards — including a ridiculous 21 offensive rebounds that gave the Tar Heels various second and third chances on a lot of possessions — vs. the Irish’s 27 total rebounds (just 3 offensive).
The two teams started the game pretty sloppily, with 7 combined turnovers in the first four minutes of play. The two squads settled down, though, and traded multiple leads throughout the first period as the Tar Heels dominated the boards but the Irish were hitting early and often from three-point range, and had a 12-2 run at one point to grab a 7-point lead. However, a short drought and a little run from UNC left us with a close halftime score, as the Irish led 30-29 at the break.
In the second half, it was all about Nate Laszewski and Day’Ron Sharpe, as the two big men traded big shots throughout the period — Laszewski doing his damage mostly from long range, while Sharpe led the Tar Heel charge down low. Laszewski led a nice run by the Irish to go up 7, but then Sharpe led a 9-0 UNC run to retake the lead with a little more than 4 minutes to play.
From there, the two teams continued to trade narrow leads down the stretch, setting up Leaky Black to get himself a bucket with 9.1 seconds to go that provided the 66-65 final score.
The Irish had one last possession with a chance to win, wherein Cormac Ryan caught the inbounds pass on the run, got stuck in the lane, and then dished to Juwan Durham for a contested jumper that fell short before the buzzer sounded.
Now 3-6, the Irish will play next on Wednesday when they host the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at 7 PM ET.