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Notre Dame Basketball: Irish Fire Blanks, Lose 65-45 to The Citadel

Brick City, IN

NCAA Basketball: Citadel at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

For the second time this year your Notre Dame Fighting Irish fell victim to the upset bug, this time in ugly fashion. The Irish lost, 65-45, in their penultimate non-conference game of the 2023-24 season against the Citadel Bulldogs.

The game stayed close in the first half, but it was actually the Bulldogs who led for most of it as the Irish struggled with poor shooting (32.4% from the field, with scoreless spells of two and three minutes). After a series of lead changes in the closing minutes of the half, the Bulldogs led 32-29 at the break. Nonetheless, stout defense and impressive offensive rebounding kept the Irish close.

NCAA Basketball: Citadel at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Also of note: Notre Dame transfer Elijah Morgan put his former team on notice with a trio of three-pointers for The Citadel in the opening half. Morgan would finish with 19 points, including five threes.

The Irish started the second half with a 6-0 run to retake the lead, but the Bulldogs responded with a 16-2 run of their own that forced a Notre Dame timeout with ten minutes to go. The Citadel continued to stretch the lead, primarily because the Irish went nearly five minutes without scoring before a pair of Braeden Shrewsberry free throws cut the deficit to 51-39. This was, in full transparency, a hideous stretch of basketball to watch as Notre Dame’s ice-cold shooters threw up one brick after another and the dam gradually broke on the defensive end. The Bulldogs led 55-39 when Micah Shrewsberry took another timeout to try to stop the bleeding with 7:29 left.

The Irish came out of that timeout in full-court press and playing with abandon on defense in search of turnovers and quick buckets. But while they did succeed in getting some extra possessions, the Irish simply could not find the basket on offense. It was particularly tough sledding from beyond the arc (3-24 on the night with 18 misses in a row), which The Citadel noticed and seized upon, locking down the paint and forcing the Irish to settle for often-questionable threes. Unable to make a dent in the Bulldogs’ lead, the Irish waved the white flag at around the three-minute mark and ended up losing 65-45.

NCAA Basketball: Citadel at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

This was a game the Irish likely would have won comfortably with even a mediocre shooting effort, but were unable to summon it. They finished a horrific 26.6% (17-64) from the field and even struggled from the free-throw line (8-15). If you want to pick an offensive bright spot from this game it was probably Konieczny, who tied a career high with 18 points, but even he had an inefficient offensive night with under 50% shooting. The defense did a lot of things well, but inevitably broke as the Irish couldn’t help themselves on the other end of the court. In the interest of charity I should note that the Irish played this game without a couple contributors in Julian Roper and Logan Imes, but considering they lost by 20 that probably shouldn’t be given too much weight.

With full-time ACC play just around the corner, Coach Shrewsberry’s young team will have one last opportunity to work out its growing pains when they take on the Marist Red Foxes on Friday in South Bend.