The Notre Dame Fighting Irish men’s basketball team lost for the 7th time in 9 games today, getting bullied by the North Carolina Tar Heels in Chapel Hill and ultimately falling 81 to 64 in yet another ACC loss.
The Irish were led on the day by Nate Laszewski, who scored 17 points and had 8 rebounds while shooting 7-for-10 from the field. Dane Goodwin had a decent game as well, scoring 10 points and grabbing 8 rebounds while shooting 5-of-10 from the floor. J.J. Starling (10 points, 3 assists, 3 rebounds) and Cormac Ryan (8 points, 6 rebounds) chipped in as well.
As a team, Notre Dame shot 42% from the field and 39% (7-of-18) from long range while losing the rebounding battle 45 to 32.
The Tar Heels were paced in scoring by Armando Bacot (21 points, 13 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 blocks) and Caleb Love (18 points, 3 rebounds, 2 steals), with Bacot especially dominating the Irish with his size, physicality, and skill down low. R.J. Davis (13 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals) and Puff Johnson (11 points, 6 rebounds) contributed nicely to the Tar Heels’ victory as well, and UNC shot 48% from the floor and 42% from three-point range while blocking 6 total shots.
In the first half, things started pretty evenly, with both teams shooting well and not playing a ton of defense, working toward an early 10-10 tie. However, the Tar Heels then decided it was time to begin asserting themselves physically against such a small and soft Irish squad (without Ven-Allen Lubin due to injury), using a 9-0 run, various forced turnovers and blocked shots, and a dynamic one-two punch of Armando Bacot down low and Caleb Love on the perimeter to build a healthy lead.
They would end up extending that lead to 13 by halftime, up 41-28 after out-rebounding the Irish by 9 in the first half and having already blocked 5 of their shots.
In the second half, it was more of the same early on, with the Tar Heels continuing to bully the Irish in the paint with Bacot and extending their lead to 14 at the under-16 media timeout. Dom Campbell getting some playing time helped bring some physicality and energy for ND, and they were able to hang around and even cut their deficit down to 11 or 12 a few times, but UNC always seemed to have an answer.
However, the Irish kept chipping away, pulling within 7 with less than 10 minutes to go, but the Tar Heels never let them get any closer than that. Cormac Ryan picking up a Flagrant 2 foul and being ejected with about 6 minutes left was the nail in the coffin for the Irish. Ryan got tangled up with Puff Johnson and gave him what appeared to be a soft kick to the head while on the floor after the play, earning the ejection after video review.
From there, the game went about as it had for most of the day, with the Tar Heels slowly pulling away and ultimately putting a stamp on a 17-point victory, winning 81 to 64.
With the loss, the Irish fall to .500 on the season at 8-8 (0-5 ACC), remaining at the bottom of the conference with the 2-13 Louisville Cardinals as the only two squads without a conference victory to-date. They will play next on Tuesday at 7 PM ET, when they will host the 8-6 (1-3) Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Purcell Pavilion.