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Notre Dame power forward John Mooney competes for control of the ball with Florida State’s Malik Osborne during Wednesday’s game.

SOUTH BEND — When it was over, and a 13-point lead with 10:04 remaining was not enough for the home team to handle, Rex Pflueger took the Wilson leather game ball and slammed it down hard off the floor.

Sophomore guard Dane Goodwin walked near the east basket with his hands above his head. Another big night lost in the loss, power forward John Mooney wandered near midcourt, where several visiting fans attempted to rush the floor.

Notre Dame was thisclose from beating a ranked team for the first time since November 2017, but couldn’t do enough down the stretch to close it out. Instead of taking control of fifth place in the Atlantic Coast Conference with a big win, their biggest in so many seasons, the Irish were dropped in a three-way tie for seventh and again left to pick up only the pieces following a 73-71 loss to No. 7 Florida State late Wednesday.

Trent Forrest sealed this one with a rebound of his own missed shot with 3.8 seconds remaining. Florida State led for all of 19 seconds — 16 of those earlier in the evening and then the last three.

“Trent Forrest drove; he missed the shot; he got the offensive rebound and put it up; he made a good play,” Mooney said of the final sequence.

The frustration over letting this one slip away festered after the final horn and spilled over into the post-game procedures. Instead of taking a few minutes in the locker room to be with his team, or with his thoughts, Brey was out for his post-game radio interview minutes after the playing of the alma mater. He sat down on a high-top stool for his customary interview, slipped on his headphones, then tossed them away and stalked off.

The entire arena went silent. Nobody was sure what they’d just seen — either in the closing seconds of the game or immediately after it.

Minutes later in the post-game interview auditorium, Mooney sat down and waited six seconds to be asked a question. When one wasn’t immediately offered, he tried to get up and leave, then sat back down. The players’ post-game press conference lasted 60 seconds.

Brey met the media for 2:40.

What else could the players possibly say? What could the head coach say? What questions could possibly be asked of them/him at that moment? What other type of spin could they/he put on this one? It all was so obvious — Florida State has the players and the poise to win a game like it had just won. Notre Dame doesn’t. Didn’t last year. Still don’t have it this year. Used to have it. All of it. That’s a fact that doesn’t sit well with Brey, but it’s one he has to own.

“Feel for our guys, but we got what we deserved,” Brey said. “There were 15 NBA scouts here. They weren’t here for any of our guys. They were here for their guys. I love our guys.”

Which means .... what?

Fill in the blank.

Outscored 25-10 the final 10:04, it was the 21st consecutive game against a ranked team that Notre Dame (18-12; 9-10 ACC) couldn’t win. It was the sixth league loss for the Irish in a game decided by one possession.

It was too much M.J. Walker down the stretch for the Seminoles. The guard scored 13 straight points late in the second half and 21 in the game. What made it so difficult to defend him?

“I don’t remember,” Brey said. “I don’t even remember. We tried a little zone. We tried a little bit of everything. We had no answers for him.”

Notre Dame was up 13 and seemingly rolling before Florida State ripped off eight unanswered, part of a 13-2 run that brought the visitors back within two, 63-61, with just over five minutes remaining. Just when it looked like this might be an easy night, it was back to game situations. Devin Vassell tied it at 63 with a floating jumper in the lane and 3:21 remaining. Notre Dame had gone over three minutes without a basket and missed five in a row and was one of its last nine. So where do they turn for a basket?

How about a Pflueger corner 3 in front of the Irish bench. When that fell, it put the Irish up three with 2:55 remaining. Pflueger was scoreless prior to that basket, but there he was again, doing something big when something big was needed.

The good vibes lasted less then a minute. Walker was fouled by Nate Laszewski shooting a corner 3. He missed the shot, but made all three free throws to tie it at 66 with 2:40. On, once again, to game situations.

“The ball didn’t go in the rim as much as we wanted it to,” guard Prentiss Hubb said of the late-game difficulties doing anything well.

Mooney registered his 25th double double for points (16) and rebounds (11). It was his 16th in league play, which broke the previous single-season record held by Tim Duncan. Hubb finished with a game-high 24 points.

“He kind of had his way with us in the first half,” said Seminoles coach Leonard Hamilton. “He’s an excellent player.”

Leading for pretty much the entire way up to that point, Notre Dame finally pushed its advantage into double digits with 16 minutes and change remaining on a Goodwin 3. It was part of a big second-half burst from Goodwin, who was pulled a couple times by Brey earlier in the game for various shortcomings. That didn’t bother the sophomore, who returned and had 10 points before the first 10 minutes of the second half had elapsed.

A corner 3 from Hubb to beat the shot clock stretched the Irish lead to 13 with 10:04 minutes remaining. An Irish scoring drought that stretched toward three minutes and allowed the Seminoles to get as close as eight made this one interesting. But a Goodwin floater allowed everyone to breathe a bit easier. For a few possessions, anyway.

Two 3-pointers from Walker sliced that 10-point Irish lead to four in two possessions.

Hubb connected on his first six shots, including four from 3, and added three free throws for a game-high 19 points at the break. He was the best guard on the floor, the best player on the floor, for long stretches. Except for when he called for a pass from Gibbs in transition and fired up a 3-pointer that hit … nothing.

Hubb and Mooney combined for 35 points in the first half. The rest of the Irish had seven.

What had the makings of an electric evening with a big-time quality opponent in the building lost a whole lot of its juice after Notre Dame lost Saturday at Wake Forest, which was the second-to-last place team in the league. It also all but torpedoed any realistic chance Notre Dame had of earning an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2017.

Win or lose Wednesday, the only hope for the Irish is to earn the ACC’s automatic bid by winning the league tournament.

Notre Dame closes the regular season Saturday at home against Virginia Tech.

FLORIDA STATE 73, NOTRE DAME 71, at Purcell Pavilion

Florida State (73): Gray 1-5 4-6 7, Osborne 1-5 2-2 4, Forrest 7-16 1-1 15, Walker 6-10 5-5 21, Vassell 6-11 1-1 13, Williams 2-7 1-2 5, Evans 1-2 0-0 2, Olejniczak 3-4 0-0 6, Polite 0-1 0-0 0, Koprivica 0-0 0-0 0, Wilkes 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 27-62 14-17 73.

Notre Dame (71): Durham 2-2 0-0 4, Mooney 7-14 0-0 16, Gibbs 1-7 3-4 5, Hubb 8-13 3-3 24, Pflueger 1-4 0-0 3, Goodwin 5-10 4-4 16, Laszewski 1-5 0-0 3, Djogo 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 25-55 10-11 71.

Halftime_Notre Dame 42-35. 3-Point Goals_Florida St. 5-17 (Walker 4-8, Gray 1-1, Forrest 0-2, Osborne 0-2, Vassell 0-2, Williams 0-2), Notre Dame 11-32 (Hubb 5-9, Goodwin 2-5, Mooney 2-6, Laszewski 1-3, Pflueger 1-3, Gibbs 0-6). Rebounds_Florida St. 31 (Forrest, Williams 7), Notre Dame 30 (Mooney 11). Assists_Florida St. 8 (Forrest 3), Notre Dame 14 (Hubb 6). Total Fouls_Florida St. 16, Notre Dame 14.

tnoie@sbtinfo.com

(574) 235-6153

Twitter: @tnoieNDI

(13) comments

jim masterson

Love Coach Brey; Almost an impossible task for ND to compete with the state universities, and the private schools in the ACC. They all take the one and dones, and even this year they have struggled. Hang in there Coach, you and the team are fine representatives of OLU.

PAIRISH9

Completely disagree. They've competed in nearly EVERY game. Coach Brey's formula is garbage. Up 13 and continue to fire up 3s? The lack of talent argument is ridiculous... Plenty of Talent, the only lack of talent is the Head Coach! The frustration by Coach Brey is understandable, but to storm away from his post game show is immature! He's making a lot of money to represent the school and himself in a classy manner. Time to go Mr. Brey.

Ndcowboy

61 point with 10 minutes left in the game. Scored 10 the rest of the way....majority of shots were contested 3s behind the arc. This script has gone on too long, talent generally wins out but good coaching can make a difference. 0-21 speaks for itself. Program needs a change...dont think Brey will adapt or is the guy. Too set in mindset and mindset no longer works. 4 out of 6 years no tournament. Appreciate the two elite 8 appearances but program is trending down. Won't be a change this year unless Brey steps down, but next year has to be tournament or out.

Ludwig von Football

After two straight appearances in the elite eight I thought we were finally developing a good basketball program. Those appearances should have caused Brey and his staff to get excited and to recruit like crazy. The opportunity was there to convince elite players that ND was a school where you could compete for a national championship every season. Instead Brey was happy to rest on his laurels. It takes talent to win and Brey isn't able to convince good players to join the ND family. If the problem is the school's outrageous academic standards than Brey should resign and say so publicly on national television.

When it comes to his coaching a few things need to be said: 1) In his twenty years his teams have never played good defense. 2) Forty years ago it was common to say if you live by the jump shot you will die by the jump shot. Today, Brey lives by the 3 pointer and dies by the 3 pointer.

Florida state led in this game for a total of nine seconds. We lost and that tells you everything you need to know.

Caldwell

"He sat down on a high-top stool for his customary interview, slipped on his headphones, then tossed them away and stalked off."

Brey is a petulant child, a classless boor, a lousy Coach, and his crude temper tantrums are getting old. He is an embarrassment to the University. And his comments denigrating his own players are unforgivable. And they are stupid. Does Brey really not think any NBA scouts have an interest in Mooney? That was his clumsy and egocentric way of trying to communicate the idea that golly, he is doing a swell job coaching, but his players stink. Brey is a disgrace.

CanuckDomer

We get it...you don't like him...do you just cut-and-paste old comments into these stories?

Caldwell

We get it... you adore him...do you just cut and past you starry-eyed comments?

NDomer70

Sorry, Caldwell, about you have a short-sided view of Notre Dame men's basketball history. Do a little research and you will see that Brey has done a very good job at the helm of the program. do you think North Carolina fans are calling for Roy Williams' head?? I mean what an embarrassment that team is, right?

sjbult25

Gibbs, Pflueger and Laszewski a combined 3-16 from the field including 2-12 from 3. That kinda of says it all. Brey can't be responsible for the poor shooting, players must step up

nyona lake

No, he can not help them make shots, but he can sure call a time out and tell them enough with the threes. Don't need quick threes with a 13 point lead. Can't find some way to get Mooney the ball inside. Got three guards and don't have them drive the lane once in awhile and maybe get some fouls or kick outs to open shooters. When they lost the lead with 10 min. to play i am thinking the only shots they took were threes. A good coach can definitely do something about that. Do I think they have finial four players on this team, probably not, but they do have enough talent to win half of these close games if put in the position to do so.

Irishbball7

We are up 13 with 10:04 to go, there is no reason to attempt a 3pt shot. They are in the double bonus. You drive to the basket and you get fouled, end of game, end of streak. But that is not the Notre Dame way, we live by the 3 we always die by the 3. Every single shot attempt was a 3 pt shot.

NDomer70

Nyona Lake, are you familiar with John Wooden. He was a middling coach back in the day. He rarely if ever called a time out. he just felt like you coached players in practice and then the players went out and played the game. He accepted the game results and then he coached and practiced the players. why? Because the game is played by the players.

kolohe20p

Who cares?

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