Notre Dame right there at the end, but shots still don't fall; Brey sounds off

Tribune Staff Report
ND Insider

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Three shots in the closing seconds to secure an Atlantic Coast Conference road win over a ranked team were right there for Notre Dame.

None of them fell, before the Irish did, 85-84, to No. 5 Florida State. Having watched his team lose another one-possession game — the Irish have lost their last three league games by a combined six points — coach Mike Brey had had enough.

A Juwan Durham steal and layup brought the Irish within one, 85-84, with 16.9 seconds left. The Irish, who trailed by 12, 75-63, with 6:30 remaining, then forced a five-second call on the inbound pass to get the final possession. Or possessions. Three shots — one by John Mooney, one by Prentiss Hubb, one by Dane Goodwin.

“Disappointing,” Brey said. “We had chances there at the end.”

Chances that Brey believes were partially made tougher by the officiating. Brey didn’t agree with a late travel call on Rex Pflueger and wondered if Durham was fouled on his layup. There was none called. And he wasn’t happy that the Irish bench was hit with a technical voicing displeasure with one of Pflueger’s travel calls by an official (John Gaffney) who did it from the other side of the floor.

“Sometimes we’re treated by the officials like we haven’t brought football as a full member, but yet we get a full share of the ACC Network TV,” Brey said. “Are you kidding me? (Gaffney) T’s up our bench from across the court ‘cause he’s (ticked) off at us? I’m frustrated, man.”

Brey wasn’t done.

“Come on, man, we’re in the league, too!” Brey barked as he left the post-game interview dais. “We’re in the league, too! Come on! Come on, John Gaffney! God!”

And with that, Brey was gone, out the door.

With the Irish having no timeouts, Mooney missed a rushed shot from in close and Hubb missed a runner before the ball bounced around and fell out of bounds. That gave the Irish one more shot with 2.6 seconds remaining but a Goodwin 3 from the left of the top of the key fell short.

Hubb led the Irish with 24 points. Mooney saw his school-record run of 12 consecutive double doubles end. He finished with 13 points and five rebounds.

Notre Dame’s five previous league games — win or lose — were decided by an average of three points.

Notre Dame fell to 11-8 overall, 2-6 in the ACC. Florida State is 17-2, 6-1. The Irish have lost their last 19 games to ranked teams dating back to early 2017.

The Irish got as close as five points early in the second half, but a turnover, a missed shot and some bad defensive possessions after, and they were down by as many as 14. A pair of Hubb free throws brought the Irish back within five, 82-77, with 3:18. It got to four, 83-79, on a Durham layup with 1:23 left.

Notre Dame climbed back into it after Florida State made only two of 15 shots in one stretch.

With a “Black Out” theme Saturday at the Donald L. Tucker Center in Tallahassee, Notre Dame wore its home white jerseys, which wasn’t the best of comfort signs for a team needing a road win. The Irish are 0-3 at home in ACC play. Florida State entered Saturday 9-0 at home this season. It was the Seminoles’ first sellout this season.

Notre Dame was expected to shuffle its starting lineup for the first time this season not due to illness or injury. Brey said following Wednesday’s home loss to Syracuse that he didn’t have a good reason for starting differently, other than the Irish needed to do something to shake themselves out of a funk. So the starting lineup was supposed to change.

Who would start? Goodwin? Sophomore power forward Nate Laszewski? Both? Turns out neither. Brey decided to go with his usual five starters.

On the other sideline, shuffling combinations is a way of life for the Seminoles. Down big early, Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton kept running different guys through the lineup and played 10 before the second media timeout. That helped erase an early 11-point deficit and get the Seminoles back within two. An Anthony Polite 3 then gave the home team the lead. That was part of a 22-3 Seminole run that included 18 unanswered.

Minutes after leading by double digits, the Irish were hanging on for their collective lives.

Gibbs stopped that slide with a 3 to bring the visitors back within five. A Hubb 3 then made it a two-point game.

A 31-10 run helped Florida State erase a double-digit deficit and go up double digits, 35-25, with seven minutes left in the first half. Going without a field goal for six minutes and nearly five more, then three more before halftime didn’t help the Irish.

It took Florida State only 8:09 to go from being down 11 to being up 10. Having to account for so many guys, somebody’s bound to slip through the scouting report. On Saturday, that guy was reserve forward Wyatt Wilkes, who came into the contest averaging fewer than three points per game (2.2). So what happens against Notre Dame? He strikes for four 3-pointers and a game-high 14 points in the first half. That 14 tied Wilkes’ career high. He finished with 19.

The Seminoles likely have two and three guys who can just go and get that on a given night. The Irish don’t.

The Irish trailed by 10, 47-37, at intermission.

The nation’s leader in rebounding (13.9) coming in, Mooney didn’t grab his first missed shot until 6:47 remained in the first half. That thanks to the Seminoles running a wave of fresh defenders — and big bodies — at Notre Dame’s only consistent rebounder.

The Irish were outrebounded 23-11 in the first half.

NOTRE DAME (84): Hubb 7-16 5-5 24, Pflueger 2-4 0-0 5, Mooney 5-9 5-7 16, Gibbs 4-12 2-2 11, Goodwin 3-6 4-6 12, Durham 5-9 6-7 16, Laszewski 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 26-59 22-27 84.

FLORIDA ST. (85): Forrest 3-10 7-8 13, Vassell 4-8 2-2 11, Walker 3-8 0-0 8, Polite 3-7 0-0 9, Gray 6-10 0-0 13, Wilkes 6-10 2-2 19, Osborne 0-2 0-0 0, Koprivica 2-5 2-2 6, Evans 1-1 0-0 2, Olejniczak 2-3 0-0 4, Jack 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 30-65 13-14 85.

Halftime_Florida St. 47-37. 3-Point Goals_Notre Dame 10-27 (Hubb 5-11, Goodwin 2-4, Mooney 1-2, Pflueger 1-3, Gibbs 1-5, Laszewski 0-2), Florida St. 12-18 (Wilkes 5-6, Polite 3-5, Walker 2-3, Gray 1-1, Vassell 1-1, Jack 0-1, Osborne 0-1). Fouled Out_Gibbs. Rebounds_Notre Dame 29 (Durham 9), Florida St. 33 (Vassell 7). Assists_Notre Dame 12 (Pflueger, Gibbs 4), Florida St. 15 (Forrest 7). Total Fouls_Notre Dame 15, Florida St. 21.

Notre Dame guard Prentiss Hubb (3) drives against Florida State’s Anthony Polite in Tallahasse, Fla., Saturday night.