The Notre Dame Fighting Irish men’s basketball team rebounded from their weekend loss to Syracuse this evening, narrowly beating the Boston Terriers 81 to 75 at home in Purcell Pavilion.
The Irish were led on the night by Cormac Ryan, who scored 21 points (6-of-7 from the field and 4-of-4 from long range) and had 5 rebounds and 4 steals. Trey Wertz had a really nice game as well, scoring 16 points and dishing out 4 assists while shooting 3-of-6 from long range. J.J. Starling (15 points, 2 assists), Nate Laszewski (9 points, 9 rebounds), Ven-Allen Lubin (9 points, 5 rebounds, 3 blocks), and Dane Goodwin (9 points, 5 rebounds, 2 blocks) chipped in as well.
As a team, Notre Dame shot 49% from the field and a blistering 53% (9-of-17) from long range while losing the rebounding battle (31 to 35) but narrowly winning the turnover battle (8 to 11).
The Terriers were paced in scoring on the evening by Ethan Brittain-Watts (19 points), while Walter Whyte (13 points, 5 rebounds) and Nevin Zink (13 points, 4 rebounds) added nice games as well. BU shot 44% from the floor and 41% from three-point range.
In the first half, the Irish got off to a hot start thanks to Ryan, who scored 8 of the team’s first 10 points to push ND out to an early 10-3 lead.
Boston made a nice little mini-run to cut it to 14-12, but then from there the Irish re-extended their lead to double digits and for the most part kept it there for the rest of the half, including an 11-0 run at one point.
Ryan finished the first half with 11 points and got some help from Starling (7 points) and Laszewski (7 points, 8 rebounds) while the Terriers really struggled against the Irish defense, shooting 11-of-31 (36%) from the field and turning it over 5 times before halftime. Notre Dame had 5 turnovers as well, though, which kept them from really pulling away.
In the second half, Boston came out of the gates firing, using three threes to fuel an 11-2 run over the first 2:30 to take a 40-38 lead.
That was erased almost immediately, though, by back-to-back-to-back threes from Ryan and Wertz (x2) and a bucket from Laszewski, giving ND a 49-42 lead at the under-16 media timeout.
From there, the Irish continued to grow their lead, with Wertz and Ryan (on both ends of the floor) leading the charge. After the back-to-back long-range shots he hit minutes earlier, Wertz buried a DEEP three-pointer late in the shot clock to make it 57-44 with 13 minutes to go and put the Irish firmly in control of the game.
At one point down the stretch, though, Laszewski left the game with an apparent head or eye injury, heading off to the locker room to get it checked out. He did not return, and it seemed to turn the tide in terms of momentum.
The Terriers took advantage of Laszewski’s absence, refusing to let the Irish cruise to a double-digit victory and making a run, chipping away at the Irish lead. They eventually cut it to 72-66 with just over 4 minutes to play after a big three-pointer from Caelan Jones. Ryan knocked down a couple free throws to briefly keep BU at bay, but the Terriers kept coming, once again getting a bucket down low to stay within 6.
With just under a minute to play, Boston had the ball down just 77-72, looking to cut the deficit to one possession. Ven-Allen Lubin had other ideas, though, swatting a Terrier three-point attempt, collecting the ball in transition, and drawing a foul. He hit one of two free throws to give the Irish a 6-point advantage.
After a couple more free ones from Goodwin, the Terriers’ Walter Whyte immediately buried a three, but with just 9 seconds to go and still down 5, there wasn’t much more Boston could do to keep themselves alive. The Irish added one more free throw and Boston missed their last shot in desperation, with ND escaping with an 81 to 75 victory that was way closer than it needed to be.
With the win, the Irish improve to 7-2 (0-1 ACC) on the season. They will play next on Sunday at 4 PM ET, when they will host the 7-3 Marquette Golden Eagles at home.