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Notre Dame Men’s Basketball: The Losses keep coming, this time at Pittsburgh

At some point the growing pains are maxed out...

NCAA Basketball: Notre Dame at Virginia Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

Notre Dame men’s basketball dropped its sixth straight game with a Saturday evening loss at Pittsburgh. The Irish (7-15, 2-9 ACC) remain offensively challenged beyond all practical comprehension, raising quasi-genuine questions about whether Micah Shrewsberry and Brian Ferentz are offshoots of the same coaching tree.

It was an omen of ill fortune that Notre Dame’s leading (and, frankly, only reliable) scorer, freshman point guard Markus Burton, picked up two fouls just 2:15 into the first half. As a result, freshman combo guard Logan Imes filled in as the primary ball handler for much of the opening period.

Despite Burton’s limited playing time, the Irish looked to be in control early. Sophomore forward Tae Davis’s two layups and a pair of three-pointers from redshirt sophomore forward JR Konieczny and senior forward Matt Zona built a 10-6 lead for the visitors. The Irish advantage grew as lard as seven points following a hook shot from sophomore forward Kebba Njie that made it 19-12.

But Notre Dame’s lead quickly evaporated as Pitt (14-8, 5-6 ACC) broke out of its cold streak from beyond the arc. The Panthers missed their first nine long-range attempts before making four of five as part of a 16-3 run to end the first half. The Irish quickly, and dispiritingly, found themselves trailing 28-22.

NCAA Basketball: Miami (FL) at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

There was cause for hope to start the second half as Burton made up for lost time, converting an and-1 and a deep three to tie the game at 30-30 with 18:37 remaining. But for every punch the Irish threw in the game, the Panthers had a harder counter.

Three consecutive three-pointers had Pitt back on top 39-30 less than two minutes later. Four consecutive Irish points were answered with ten straight by the Panthers to make it 49-34. From that point on the game was a tug-of-war with a clear winner and a clear, albeit admirably scrappy, loser.

The Irish would fall 70-60. Burton tied Pitt forward Blake Hinson for a game-high 17 points while Davis recorded his second-highest point total of the season (16), but those were the only two Irish players in double digits. If not for freshman guard Braeden Shrewsberry’s three-pointer with 25 seconds left in the contest, no other player would have topped five points.

The losing streak won’t be any easier to break as Notre Dame travels to Durham, N.C. to face Duke on Wednesday, Feb. 7. Tipoff is scheduled for 9 p.m. Eastern.