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Notre Dame guard Prentiss Hubb was really good again Wednesday in another Atlantic Coast Conference road game against North Carolina State.

RALEIGH, N.C. — Good in the first half, not so good in the second.

That’s not the recipe to win a second-straight road game in the Atlantic Coast Conference, something Notre Dame learned Wednesday at North Carolina State.

Up by a dozen at one point, the Irish offense ran out of gas at the wrong time, which ended in a 73-68 loss at PNC Arena.

“Their physicality hurt us in the second half,” said Irish coach Mike Brey. “I thought we played well enough to escape.”

Notre Dame won the rebounding battle, 36-34, but North Carolina State’s 16 offensive rebounds that led to 12 second-chance points was a crusher.

Notre Dame falls to 10-5, 1-3; North Carolina State is 11-4; 2-2. The Irish led for 31:29; the Wolfpack led for 3:16. Notre Dame managed only 10 points the final 10:30.

Sophomore guard Prentiss Hubb scored a career-high 24 points for the Irish. Fellow guard T.J. Gibbs added 14.

A pair of D.J. Funderburk free throws gave North Carolina State a 68-66 lead with 1:37 left. It was the home team’s first lead since 10-7 with 16:31 left in the first half. It was all Irish for much of the night, but not when it really needed to be. Late.

A Markell Johnson drive and score with two seconds left on the shot clock gave the Wolfpack a four-point lead with less than a minute left. Two Hubb free throws brought the Irish back within two, 70-68.

The Irish led by as many as 12 in the second half.

Irish power forward John Mooney delivered his 12th double double for points (14) and rebounds (14) this season. His ninth and 10th points were big ones. They gave the Irish a 62-60 lead with 4:04 remaining.

Mooney returned with two more buckets close to the bucket to keep the Irish ahead. Just like Saturday at Syracuse, back and forth this one went.

Mooney fouled out with the game tied and 1:38 left. With it, went Notre Dame’s only consistent offensive threat, and really, its best chance to win.

Amazingly, Mooney was left off Wednesday’s Wooden Award midseason watch list, which had the names of 25 players on track for the nation’s most prestigious award. Mooney, who’s second in the nation and tops in the ACC in rebounding (13.5) was not there.

A pair of Hubb layups, one with each hand, allowed Notre Dame to open its largest lead of the game early in the second half at 11 points. A bucket with the right hand made it 45-34 Irish. They were rolling. The Irish then went scoreless for nearly three minutes before a Dane Goodwin drive bumped their lead back to 10. Mooney then picked up fouls 2 and 3 seconds apart. That allowed the Wolfpack to get within eight.

An offense that had flowed so easily and effortlessly for the entire first half went stagnant for stretches in the second. That allowed the Wolfpack to hang around and make it interesting.

Notre Dame shot 41.9 percent from the floor and 9.1 percent (1-of-11) from 3 in the second half.

A Braxton Beverly 3 — a third offensive chance after two rebounds — brought the Wolfpack within two, 60-58, with 6:19 left.

“That’s like the basketball gods saying, ‘Now you don’t deserve to win,’” Brey said. “You gotta get that (rebound).”

When Funderburk banged in two free throws with 5:27 left, it was tied at 60.

Up to that point, Notre Dame had led for 30:44. North Carolina State had led for all of 1:39.

Notre Dame played without graduate student guard Rex Pflueger, who was held out of Wednesday’s game because of a bone bruise in his left knee. It’s the same knee that was surgically repaired a year ago. Brey said earlier this week that bone bruising is common for players who have their anterior cruciate ligament repaired, as Pflueger did.

Goodwin made his first start of the season in place of Pflueger.

Pflueger aggravated what already had been a sore knee late in the first half of Saturday’s win at Syracuse. An Orange player bumped into Pflueger’s knee during an Irish fast break.

Pflueger will be a game-time decision for Saturday’s home game against No. 13 Louisville. No Pflueger left the Irish with seven available scholarship players. That also forced the Irish to get creative on defense. Notre Dame played some man for possessions. The Irish then went to a 2-3 zone in others. They also threw in some 1-3-1 for a possession here and there. Anything to mix it up and keep the key guys from falling into any sort of foul trouble.

Notre Dame played only six guys in the first half.

North Carolina State played without its leading scorer and rebounder C.J. Brice, who missed his third-straight game while dealing with concussion symptoms.

Needing to be good with the ball and make shots and defend from the jump, Notre Dame led for a good chunk – like 16:08 — of the first half. The Irish extended their lead to as many as nine with under five minutes remaining following Hubb’s fourth 3-pointer. That made it 35-26. After tying his career high of 22 points Saturday at Syracuse, Hubb hit for 14 in the first half.

Hubb also went to the bench with his second foul with 68 seconds remaining in the first half. Wolfpack guard Markell Johnson then left for the locker room in the closing seconds looking like he was nursing some sort of lower-body injury. He was said to be suffering from back spasms with his return questionable. Johnson led the Wolfpack with 13 points in the first half. He then started the second half.

The Irish led at the break, 39-34. They shot 53.8 percent from the floor, 71.4 percent from 3. They were almost as good as Red Panda’s halftime show. Almost.

The Irish entered Wednesday having made at least 15 3-pointers in three of their previous five games. Those big shooting nights all came against teams that played large helpings of zone defense. That’s not North Carolina State’s M.O. The Wolfpack are more about man-to-man defense, suffocating pressure that hounds teams into turnovers. The Irish opened the week leading the nation in assist/turnover ratio and fewest turnovers and fewest fouls basically halfway through the regular season.

Notre Dame turned it over seven times in the first half.

NOTRE DAME (10-5): Gibbs 5-9 4-4 14, Hubb 9-14 2-2 24, Mooney 7-14 0-1 14, Goodwin 4-9 0-0 9, Laszewski 1-5 0-0 3, Durham 1-6 2-3 4. Totals 27-57 8-10 68.

NC STATE (11-4): Johnson 9-15 5-6 27, Beverly 4-12 0-0 10, Hellems 5-14 0-0 12, Bates 3-4 0-1 6, Daniels 1-7 0-0 2, Funderburk 4-6 8-10 16, Andree 0-6 0-0 0, Dixon 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 26-65 13-17 73.

Halftime_Notre Dame 39-34. 3-Point Goals_Notre Dame 6-18 (Hubb 4-7, Goodwin 1-2, Laszewski 1-5, Mooney 0-1, Gibbs 0-3), NC State 8-28 (Johnson 4-9, Hellems 2-4, Beverly 2-6, Daniels 0-3, Andree 0-6). Fouled Out_Mooney. Rebounds_Notre Dame 31 (Mooney 14), NC State 32 (Funderburk 9). Assists_Notre Dame 11 (Gibbs 6), NC State 16 (Johnson 7). Total Fouls_Notre Dame 16, NC State 14.

(9) comments

nyona lake

Why does everyone say Ted Valentine is a top ref? Mooney had some of the cheapest fouls tonight.

JackMBA

Ted Valetine must be the most paid off ACC referee. It was a collossal blunder for ND to join the lousy ACC in the first place. Brey claimed that ND was outmuscled on the boards and this is why Chris Doherty should have been and integral part of this team because of his interior defense.

Caldwell

I had a good belly laugh earlier this year when, after holding Capitol Investment University to about 50 points, John Mooney declared that the Irish would be "special" on defense this year. Now, in 4 conferences games, the Irish haven given up an average of 77.25 point per game. And they gave up 73 points to NC State, who played without its leading scorer. The Irish lost tonight because they stink on defense, and they stink on defense because Brey is a lousy, one-dimensional coach, man.

Cowboy Mike

Amen!

Ludwig von Football

During Mike Brey's tenure at ND there have only been two teams that played good defense. Part of the problem is his players lack the speed, quickness, and athleticism to play good defense. But that is Brey's fault because he is the one who recruited them. Sometimes I wonder how much time Brey devotes to teaching the fundamentals of good defense.

JackMBA

Chris Doherty would have helped with interior defense

Ndcowboy

The positive - Hubb appears to be getting better, still some mental errors but he competes. Mooney is solid. The negatives - the other two senior starters, Rex and T.J. are average - even in a down year for the ACC. The constant - Brey's in game adjustments / lack of coaching is horrible. Against a depleted (and average) NC State team he allowed them to come back from a double digit deficit. 10 minutes of game play with 10 points? Get a TO, run a set play, change your lineup (maybe Djogo for a few minutes to let guys rest)...anything. I give him credit for recruitment, development (maybe), and adjusting styles - but countless times throughout the years I've watched defeat snatched from the jaws of victory with his inability to adjust within the game (particularly in the 2H as teams make a run). Even in a down ACC - this looks like a 6 win team....

docone

simple reason nd finished off this game looking like previous nd teams...too much dribbling and

passing and not enough shooting.....typical brey 2nd half offense....

PAIRISH9

Amen! When was the last time The Irish ran a "Set Play" in crunch time? NEVER!! Always 23 dribbles and a forced 3 or wild circus shot! It's get old!

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