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Notre Dame Men’s Basketball: Irish Defeat Clemson on the Road, 76-61

The Irish continue to hang around the top of the ACC standings with a double-digit road victory at Clemson

NCAA Basketball: Notre Dame at Clemson Dawson Powers-USA TODAY Sports

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish men’s basketball team continued their winning ways this evening, defeating the Clemson Tigers by a final score of 76 to 61 at Littlejohn Coliseum on Saturday evening.

The Irish were led on the night by Blake Wesley, who scored 21 points on 7-of-12 shooting (5-of-6 from deep) and snagged 6 rebounds on the game. He scored 18 of that 21 in the first half. Other key contributions came from Dane Goodwin (20 points on 8-of-13 shooting — 16 coming in the 2nd half, 6 rebounds), Paul Atkinson Jr. (9 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists), Cormac Ryan (13 points, 3-of-4 from three, 6 rebounds, and Trey Wertz (8 points, 3 assists).

NCAA Basketball: Notre Dame at Clemson Dawson Powers-USA TODAY Sports

Overall, Notre Dame as a team shot 53% from the field and 54% from long range (13-of-24) while winning the rebounding battle 34 to 30.

The Tigers were paced in scoring on the evening by P.J. Hall (19 points, 7 rebounds), while Nick Honor (12 points, 2 assists), Alex Hemenway (8 points), and Naz Bohannon (10 points, 7 rebounds) chipped in as well. Clemson shot 43% from the floor overall and 28% from long range in the 7th straight game where the Irish defense held their opponent to 65 points or less.

The game began super well for the Irish, hitting 6 of their first 9 shots from the field, driven mainly by Wesley, who started 4-for-4 from the field and had 10 points and 4 rebounds by the first media timeout. Meanwhile, the Irish put the clamps on the Tigers early, with Clemson starting 2-for-11 from the field, allowing the Irish to go on a 15-2 run after Clemson took an early 3-2 lead.

It didn’t get much easier for the Tigers from there, as Wesley continued to sizzle from the field with multiple teammates occasionally following his lead. By the 10:16 mark, ND led by 17 and had hit 10 of their 14 shots from the field, including 6-of-8 from long range. From there, Clemson chipped away at their deficit a bit, but Notre Dame continued to pretty easily get to the rim and get open looks from three to keep the Tigers from getting too close, and so the Irish entered halftime up 38 to 28.

In the second half, Clemson made things a bit tighter, cutting the Irish’s lead to as little as 7 early on. However, a couple threes from Dane Goodwin and one from Trey Wertz that capped a 7-0 run over the course of about 4 minutes pushed the ND lead back to double digits. They led 51-35 at the 13:50 mark as Clemson struggled to find easy buckets.

NCAA Basketball: Notre Dame at Clemson Dawson Powers-USA TODAY Sports

Still, the Tigers continued to fight, and used a multi-minute drought from the Irish to whittle the ND lead back down to 7 again with less than 10 minutes to play. Dane Goodwin responded, however, with a mid-range jumper and an and-one finish in transition, and so at the under-8 timeout, Notre Dame once again held a double-digit lead, 61-50.

ND would extend that lead to 15 before Clemson once again cut it to 10, but as had happened all throughout the game, the Irish answered Clemson’s near-comeback with a few more buckets to make it 72-55 with a little less than 4 minutes to go. From there, Clemson did their best to score in desperation, but Notre Dame coasted to yet another victory, winning by 15.

With the win, the Irish improved to 18-7 overall and 11-3 in ACC play on the season, and have now rattled off wins in 14 of their last 16. They’re scheduled to play next on Wednesday at 7 pm ET, when they will host the Boston College Eagles at Purcell Pavilion a little over two months removed from the absolute blowout BC handed the Irish in their ACC opener in early December, which at the time made the Irish 3-4 on the season. Needless to say, the Irish the Eagles will see this week are a bit different, considering their 15-3 record since that game.