The Notre Dame Fighting Irish men’s basketball team ended their regular season with a victory this afternoon, defeating the Pittsburgh Panthers by a final score of 78 to 54 on Senior Day at Purcell Pavilion. With the win, the Irish locked up a 2nd-place finish in the ACC and the 2-seed in next week’s ACC Tournament.
The Irish were led on the day by Nate Laszewski, who scored 17 points on 6-of-7 shooting (3-for-3 from deep) and snagged 9 rebounds in the game. Other key contributions came from Cormac Ryan (15 points on 5-of-7 shooting from long range, 6 rebounds), Blake Wesley (11 points, 4 assists, 4 rebounds), Dane Goodwin (10 points, 6 rebounds), and Paul Atkinson Jr. (10 points, 5 assists).
Overall, Notre Dame as a team shot 56% from the field and a BLISTERING 58% (14/24) from long range (including 9-for-13 in the second half) while winning the rebounding battle 35 to 27.
The Panthers were paced in scoring by Mouhamadou Gueye (13 points, 8 rebounds) and John Hugley (13 points, 3 rebounds), while Nate Santos (7 points) and Femi Odukale (6 points, 5 rebounds) chipped in as well. Pittsburgh shot 36% from the floor overall and a putrid 11.5% (3/26) from long range.
The game began well for the Irish, who started all seniors in honor of the day. Notre Dame hit 4 of their first 5 shots, including two three-pointers from Laszewski and one from Ryan, pushing ND to an 11-4 lead early on. Both teams then struggled for a stretch, including a 2+ minute period where neither team could score. The Irish went nearly 4 minutes before a Wesley layup finally pushed their score to 13 and their lead to 7.
For the rest of the first half, both teams struggled to completely find their footing offensively, but Pittsburgh especially couldn’t hit shots to keep up with all of the Irish’s shooters and ability of Wesley to make things happen with the ball. By the 3:21 mark, Notre Dame held a 26-17 lead, and would end the half with a Wesley three, a couple emphatic blocks from Ryan and Laszewski, and some Wesley free throws to make it 31-21 at the break.
In the second half, the Irish came out firing, with Cormac Ryan knocking down multiple threes to fuel a 12-2 run to open the period and build out a 20-point Irish lead by the 16:57 mark. From there, much of the half involved the Irish maintaining that lead, raining three-pointers from all over while Pitt would occasionally get a bucket or two to keep it from getting TOO out of hand.
With just over 3 minutes to play, the Irish led 71-51, and the Irish reserves began to enter the game to signal it was truly garbage time, giving the seniors a nice moment as the crowd provided a standing ovation for them when they walked off the floor. From there, the crowd was treated to a J.R. Konieczny banked-in three and injury-plagued senior Robby Carmody getting to sub in for the final 6 seconds, ultimately winning by 24 in the season finale.
With the win, the Irish officially ended the regular season with a record of 22-9 overall and 15-5 in ACC play. They’ll play next in the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament on Thursday, against whatever team emerges from the 7/10/15 seeds on Tuesday and Wednesday during the Irish’s double-bye.