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Notre Dame Men’s Basketball: Irish Fall to Florida State on the Road, 74-70

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Mike Brey stays winless in Tallahassee as the Seminoles do just enough to outlast an Irish team who couldn’t hit a three-pointer in the second half

NCAA Basketball: Notre Dame at Florida State Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish men’s basketball team stumbled on the road this evening, losing to the Florida State Seminoles by a final score of 74 to 70 at the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center in Tallahassee.

The Irish were led on the evening by Blake Wesley, who scored 21 points on 10-of-21 shooting and snagged 6 rebounds on the game.

Other key contributions came from Paul Atkinson Jr. (17 points, 10 rebounds), Nate Laszewski (9 points), and Prentiss Hubb (10 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists), while Dane Goodwin had another rough game offensively (6 points on 3-of-10 shooting). Overall, Notre Dame as a team shot 44% from the field and 26% from long range, shooting 0-for-10 from deep in the second half after making 5-of-9 in the first.

NCAA Basketball: Notre Dame at Florida State Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports

The Seminoles were paced in scoring on the evening by freshman John Butler (16 points, 8 rebounds, 4 blocks), while RayQuan Evans (12 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists), Tanor Ngom (12 points, 5 rebounds), and Anthony Polite (12 points, 3 rebounds) chipped in as well. FSU shot 41% from the floor overall and 41% from long range and out-rebounded the Irish 42-38.

The game began well for both teams, as the first 4+ minutes featured the two squads combining for over 50% shooting from the field. However, it was Florida State who seized an early lead, thanks to 5-of-5 shooting from long range before we even hit the first media timeout, including 3 such deep balls from freshman John Butler. The Irish themselves shot 5-for-10 to start the game, but did all their damage in the paint, allowing the Seminoles to establish a 6-point lead with 15:19 to go in the first half.

From there, ND began to chip away at that Seminole lead, using baskets from Goodwin, Hubb, and Wesley to pull within 3 by the next media timeout. Then, a 7-0 run culminating in a Nate Laszewski three gave the Irish their first lead of the game, although FSU quickly scored again to tie it up heading into the under-8 timeout. The two teams went back and forth for a while after that, as the Irish owned the boards but failed to build any substantial lead thanks to FSU’s length and athleticism.

With a little more than 3 minutes to go in the half, ND took the lead on a...decent play from Blake Wesley:

However, Florida State managed to tie it up again after that and then even take a small lead, but a Trey Wertz three and then multiple Nate Laszewski long balls — including one just before the end of the half — gave Notre Dame a hard-earned 44-39 halftime lead.

In the second half, FSU again came out for the start of the half firing, using threes from Anthony Polite, Harrison Prieto, Wyatt Wilkes, and John Butler to take a 53-48 lead. The Irish answered back, though, with a Hubb layup and a super impressive Wesley and-one bucket. At the 13:50 mark, FSU led just 53-52.

NCAA Basketball: Notre Dame at Florida State Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports

However, the Seminoles continued to shoot well, and built their lead back out to 7. Still, the Irish responded yet again, using some offense from Atkinson and Wesley to pull back to within 2 with a little more than 7 minutes remaining.

At that point, FSU’s offense kicked back into gear a bit, growing their lead while ND fought to stay within striking distance. A Blake Wesley steal, behind-the-back dribble, and fast break layup brought the Irish to within 1 with 4:31 to go, but FSU quickly responded with a bucket and by forcing a turnover on the other end.

NCAA Basketball: Notre Dame at Florida State Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports

The next few minutes featured the Irish and Seminoles both struggling to score much, and so when the Irish forced FSU into back-to-back shot clock violations, a free throw and a layup from Hubb brought Notre Dame back to within 2 points with 1:27 to play. Anthony Polite then knocked down a huge three to put Florida State up by 5, but Cormac Ryan quickly pushed the ball up the floor and found Atkinson for a three-point play.

On the ensuing possession, the Irish got a stop but struggled to corral the rebound and it went out of bounds off of Notre Dame. Forced to foul, FSU’s RayQuan Evans knocked down both free throws, and as Wesley’s desperation attempt at the rim on the other end got blocked by Butler, the clock ran out and FSU celebrated a nice win over the #2 team in the conference.

With the loss, the Irish fell to 21-9 overall and 14-5 in ACC play on the season, now looking to lock up the #2 seed in the ACC Tournament in their season finale instead of tonight, as they would have done so with a victory over the Seminoles. They’ll finish their regular season and attempt to do so this Saturday at 2:30 pm ET, when they will host the Pittsburgh Panthers at Purcell Pavilion for Senior Day.