The Notre Dame Fighting Irish men’s basketball team lost for the 10th time in 12 contests Saturday afternoon, losing at home to the Virginia Tech Hokies by a final score of 93 to 87 in a game of fantastic offense and very little defense.
The Irish were led on the day by Nate Laszewski, who scored 33 points and had 8 rebounds while shooting 12-for-17 from the field and 6-of-9 from long range. Cormac Ryan had a decent game as well, scoring 17 points and dishing out 3 assists on the day. Ven-Allen Lubin chipped in 11 points and 5 rebounds, and both Marcus Hammond and J.J. Starling each scored 9 points.
As a team, Notre Dame shot 55% from the field and 43% from long range (13-for-30) for the game. They lost both the turnover battle (6 to 5) and the rebounding battle (29 to 26) on the day.
The Hokies were paced in scoring by Grant Basile (33 points, 7 rebounds, 13-of-19 from the field) and Justyn Mutts (19 points, 8 rebounds, 9 assists). Sean Pedulla (12 points, 5 assists) and M.J. Collins (12 points) contributed to the effort as well, and VaTech shot 57% from the floor and 43% from three-point range.
The game started off well for the Irish, as they began the contest 5-for-8 from deep and built an early 24-17 lead. Laszewski was instrumental in that early run, and finished the first half with 20 points on 4-of-5 shooting from long range.
However, the Hokies quickly closed that gap as the first half moved forward, driven by Basile and others like Hunter Cattoor. Virginia Tech took a a 37-31 lead at the 2:31 mark after a 13-2 run was capped by a Lynn Kidd basket.
As the final seconds of the first half ticked away, Laszewski buried a three with just 9 seconds to go to tie the game. However, Pedulla came back on the other end and knocked down a buzzer-beater three of his own to secure a 43-40 halftime lead for the Hokies.
In the second half, Laszewski stayed hot in the early going, scoring 8 points within the first 3 minutes of the period to keep the Irish even with the Hokies at 48 with 17:15 to play. After a Hammond bucket put the Irish ahead by 2, the Hokies responded with 5 quick points of their own to go back up by 3.
The Hokies would extend their lead to 5 points before a Trey Wertz three and a J.J. Starling basket brought Notre Dame even once again at the under-12 timeout. Unfortunately, from there it became a never-ending game of catch-up for the Irish, as for the next few minutes the Hokies would build a 5-6 point lead, ND would hit a shot or two to claw back within striking distance, and then woud allow the Hokies to rattle off a couple quick scores to re-extend their lead right back to where it was.
Down the stretch, Virginia Tech got into a groove by feeding Basile down low, and he led a wild run by the Hokies where they made 10 straight field goal attempts, with many of them being layups or dunks by Basile as he dominated the Irish in the paint. Basile scored 28 of his 33 points in the second half, and that stretch he starred in gave VaTech a 10-point lead with just a few minutes to play.
After that, ND threatened slightly by pulling within 6 on a Ven-Allen Lubin dunk with just over a minute left, and again at around the 35-second mark, but both times they were unable to make any further winning plays to pull closer. Following Lubin’s dunk, Ryan made the devastating mistake of fouling Collins as he shot a three (Collins hit all three free throws), and then the second instance of being within 6 saw Ryan miss a three and the Hokies get to go shoot more free throws.
Virginia Tech struggled to completely put the game away, allowing Starling to pull the Irish within 4 with 15 seconds to go. But Basile hit both his free throws on the other end to clinch it for good, and the Hokies finished things off with a 6-point victory on the road.
With the loss, the Irish fall to 10-15 on the season (2-12 ACC). They will play next on Tuesday, 2/14 at 7 PM ET in a Valentine’s Day road trip to Durham to face the Duke Blue Devils.