In possibly the lowest point of Notre Dame’s season to date, the Irish (7-5, 0-2 ACC) fell to Florida State (4-10, 2-1 ACC) in a one-point loss. After falling behind for most of the second half the Irish came up short on a last ditch effort to steal the win on the road.
Notre Dame took a quick 3-2 lead off a J.J. Starling three-pointer just over a minute into the game, but the Seminoles rattled off eight straight points to gain a 10-3 advantage. A full-court press by the Seminoles didn’t turn the Irish over as much as it delayed them from inbounding the ball and getting into their half-court offense.
The Irish managed to claw back though and reclaimed the lead at 16-14 after a pair of leak-out layups from Nate Laszewski and Cormac Ryan. A Ryan triple capped an 11-0 Notre Dame run to put the Irish up 21-14 at the under-12 media timeout of the first half.
Ryan continued his hot shooting with another three and Marcus Hammond chipped in with his own to put Notre Dame up 27-18. However, after starting the game 5-6 from beyond the arc, the Irish missed their next six from range to close the half. At the same time, the Seminoles managed to find their own offensive rhythm and trim the margin.
Notre Dame held on to a 35-34 lead at the under-4 media break thanks to Ven-Allen Lubin asserting himself on the glass. The freshman forward grabbed multiple offensive rebounds and scored a pair of second-chance buckets, including a mid-air putback slam. Then there were four consecutive lead changes culminating with Starling drawing a goaltending to put the Irish up 39-38 at the intermission.
Ryan led the Irish with 12 points at the half while Starling and Trey Wertz contributed seven points apiece. Lubin recorded four points and six rebounds while Dane Goodwin was scoreless in the stanza and didn’t attempt a single shot.
Florida State retook the lead 41-39 after Laszewski committed a silly foul on a three-pointer late in the shot clock. Laszewski answered with his own triple but Florida State scored four straight points at the rim, convincing Mike Brey to burn a timeout less than two minutes into the second half.
Ryan and Starling gave the Irish the lead again but the Seminoles answered with back-to-back threes to gain a five-point edge. Starling responded with a deep three, but the Seminoles had their own answers and built a 56-49 lead, their largest of the game.
Laszewski and Ryan notched consecutive threes to make it a two-point game but Laszewski pick up his fourth foul with more than 10 minutes to go in the game. Florida State looked like they might pull away but timely buckets by Wertz and Starling halved the deficit to 65-61 with 8:29 to go.
Goodwin finally cracked the scorer’s sheet with just over seven minutes to go in the game as he cut the lead to three, but Florida State once again connected from deep to make it 69-63. The Irish then went on a 3:00 scoring drought before Wertz went 1-2 from the free throw line.
Notre Dame went to a 2-3 zone defense intermittently throughout the final five minutes to try and conserve as much energy as possible. Just when it seemed like the Irish were out of it—trailing by seven with under two minutes to go—Starling scored six straight points to make it 73-72. Four of those six points were fueled by Laszewski blocking shots despite his four fouls.
Notre Dame forced a shot clock violation on the ensuing Florida State possession and called timeout with an opportunity to inbound the ball with 6.5 seconds remaining. The final play’s design worked on paper but not in execution.
Ryan inbounded the ball to Wertz and proceeded to sprint up the middle of the court. Florida State’s full-court press meant the other defenders were hugging Notre Dame’s shooters, leaving the middle wide open for Ryan as he got a step on his man. However, Wertz airmailed the pass ahead to Ryan and Florida State recovered it as time expired.
The Irish have now lost four of their last five games and have yet to record a win at Florida State, falling to 0-6 in the series on the road. Starling’s late-game heroics gave him a game-high 20 points while Ryan logged 17. The Irish shot 51% from the field and made two more three-pointers than Florida State, but the Seminoles converted 12-14 from the free throw line.
Notre Dame returns to action Dec. 27 against Jacksonville at home. Tip-off is slated for 7:00 p.m. EST.