The Notre Dame Fighting Irish men’s basketball team defeated the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in a nail-biter this evening, winning by a final score of 72 to 68 in an overtime game at McCamish Pavilion in Atlanta.
The Irish were led in the winning effort by star freshman Blake Wesley, who scored 22 points and added 7 rebounds and 3 assists in the contest. Paul Atkinson Jr. (16 points on 8-of-9 shooting, 7 rebounds), Dane Goodwin (14 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists) and Prentiss Hubb (10 points, 9 assists, 4 rebounds) also made solid contributions to the overall Irish performance, as the team shot 47% from the field and 30% from long range while winning the turnover battle 12 to 14.
For the Yellow Jackets, they were led on the night by Michael Devoe (20 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists), while Jordan Usher (16 points, 14 rebounds, 6 assists), Kyle Sturdivant (10 points, 4 assists), and Khalid Moore (8 points, 4 rebounds) chipped in solid evenings as well. Georgia Tech shot 39% from the floor overall and an abysmal 22% from deep (6-for-27), and narrowly out-rebounded the Irish 40 to 38.
The game began pretty slow for both teams, but especially for the Irish, who saw themselves down 17-9 after about 9 minutes of play and only had three players score any points at all for the entire half.
More wackiness from midtown Atlanta - Paul Atkinson is 6-for-6 from the field. Rest of the #Irish are a combined 7-for-26.— Tom Noie (@tnoieNDI) January 8, 2022
The Yellow Jackets kept the Irish at arm’s length for much of the period, but the Irish begin to make a bit of a run in the last few minutes, cutting their deficit to 2 to make it 26-24 at the under-4 media timeout. The two teams stayed close after that, but a late three by the Yellow Jackets’ Kyle Sturdivant gave Georgia Tech a 6-point lead at the intermission, 35-29.
In the second half, the Irish started typical-starter Paul Atkinson Jr., who for some reason began the game on the bench. Atkinson’s presence, along with some nice plays from Wesley and Goodwin, allowed the Irish to jump out to a much better start in the 2nd half compared to their slow start in the 1st.
The Irish rode an 11-0 run to a 46-41 lead just before the 12-minute mark, but the Yellow Jacket’s broke out of their 4-plus-minute drought with a Michael Devoe three to cut their newfound deficit to 2 points. From there, the Irish continued to hit shots, but failed to build any sort of substantial lead on the Yellow Jackets. By the time ND took a timeout with 6:39 to play, ND led 53-51.
Georgia Tech rallied back, though, and eventually managed a 61-57 lead with under 2 minutes to go. However, a Dane Goodwin mid-range jumper, a Notre Dame stop, and a HUGE Blake Wesley three on the other end flipped the script, giving the Irish a 62-61 lead with just over 45 seconds remaining.
On the ensuing Georgia Tech possession, the Irish forced a miss and got the defensive rebound, but Nate Laszewski was falling out of bounds with the ball and saved it directly to Georgia Tech’s Deebo Coleman, who was fouled while shooting. Coleman hit one of two free throws to tie the game at 62, and after a missed Hubb jumper and Atkinson having the ball knocked away from him after getting an offensive rebound (a missed foul call by the officials), the game headed to overtime.
In overtime, both teams managed just one bucket each in the first two minutes, tied at 64 at the 3:00 mark. Then, Wesley found Hubb in the corner after a nice drive into the paint to collapse the defense, and Hubb proceeded to bury the shot to put the Irish up 3 with just over two minutes to go. After another stop, Nate Laszewski buried a three of his own — his first basket of the game — to put the Irish up 6.
From there, the Irish controlled the ball and ran the clock, but still managed to make it interesting when Hubb missed the front end of a one-and-one and then Georgia Tech quickly drove down and scored, making it a two-point game. The Irish then got the ball to Goodwin, their best free throw shooter, who managed to hit both his shots and ice the game, leading to the Irish’s 4-point margin of victory.
With the win, the Irish improved to 9-5 overall and 3-1 in ACC play on the season, having now won 5 in a row and 6 of their last 7 games. They’re scheduled to play next on Wednesday night at 7 pm ET, when they will host the Clemson Tigers at Purcell Pavilion.