Road woes continue for Notre Dame men

TOM NOIE
South Bend Tribune

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.-- One stop was all that was needed for a Notre Dame team scrambling for road success in its new conference home to send it to overtime and start over with five fresh minutes.

Instead, Florida State’s Ian Miller sent the Irish home in regulation Tuesday with another league road loss.

Miller’s drive and basket with four seconds remaining helped the Seminoles hold on after the Irish erased a 10-point deficit with 7:55 remaining. Instead of possibly going home having made history with their first Atlantic Coast Conference road win, the Irish headed back to the snow and cold with a 76-74 loss.

“We keep playing our way into game situations,” said coach Mike Brey. “I feel if we can keep doing that we can get a couple of these.”

Notre Dame fell to 11-8; 2-4 in the ACC. The Irish are 0-3 on the road. Florida State is 13-5; 4-2.

Even with Miller’s late work, Notre Dame had a chance. Unable to call a timeout because they had none left, the Irish inbounded to guard Eric Atkins. His speed dribble into the front court earned him a deep but clean look from 3. Looking on line and true, it bounced off the rim at the buzzer.

“I got a good look at it,” Atkins said. “It was tough because I had to shoot it from so far, but that was the best look we could get.”

Feeling that he needed to play well after struggling two nights earlier, Atkins led the Irish with 24 points. He added five assists and four rebounds. Another senior who was looking for a bounce-back game, Garrick Sherman, added 21 points and 10 rebounds for his sixth career double double, all this season.

“We couldn’t make the plays when we needed to,” Sherman said. “We can’t keep digging a hole for ourselves.”

Notre Dame tied it at 74 — the first time it was tied since 0-0 — when Pat Connaughton eyed a driving lane with the shot-clock running down and 33.3 seconds remaining. Florida State called time out with 27.2 seconds left in regulation.

“Anytime you tie the game with 20 seconds left you feel like you might escape with one, especially when you’ve been playing bad all game,” Connaughton said. “We did a good job of digging in.”

Still, the Irish had only a loss to show for the effort. The search for something good to happen continues.

“It’s just going to take the little plays, the little things,” Connaughton said. “Finishing the layups that we missed, the loose balls we missed down the stretch. It’s really just the little things.”

Coming back out of the final timeout, the Irish went big with power forwards Sherman and Zach Auguste and guards Atkins, Connaughton and Demetrius Jackson. They also went zone. Miller found a seam, slid through and tossed in his runner, which likely would leave Brey tossing and turning.

“Maybe we need to be man there,” Brey said. “I’ll think about that a lot.”

Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton was a miss away from thinking about what might have been.

“We wanted to shoot it with about three seconds left on the shot clock,” Hamilton said. “We got very fortunate the ball went in.”

Four Seminoles scored double figures led by 20 from Aaron Thomas.

Notre Dame received a scare just after the start of the second half when sophomore power forward Austin Burgett went to the bench and complained that he was having trouble breathing and didn’t feel well.

Burgett was taken back to the locker room area and was looked at by Dr. William Thompson, the Florida State team physician. Dr. Thompson then summoned the team cardiologist, who was sitting in the front row. Florida State medical personnel administered an Electrocardiogram (EKG) and examined Burgett for a possible heart issue.

Burgett checked out fine and accompanied the team on their flight home.

“He had a hard time catching his breath,” Brey said. “We’ll do some more tests on him (Wednesday). He’s back in rhythm. The heart was out of rhythm.”

Burgett made a second consecutive start for the first time in his career. He scored seven points with an assist in 21 minutes.

“God, you feel for the kid; he was playing great for us,” Brey said.

Burgett visited afterward with his sister, who was in attendance, before traveling back to campus. He was unavailable for comment.

Sherman insisted the situation with Burgett, however scary, wasn’t a factor in forcing the Irish to lose focus.

“We’ve had so many guys go in and out of the lineup this year that we’re not confused by that,” he said. “We’re just trying to keep it steady no matter who’s on the court.”

Trailing by as many as 13 in the first half and eight at the break, the Irish flipped the script. For one of the few times this league season, Notre Dame started the second half strong instead of sluggish. Eight points from Atkins in less than six minutes and a couple baskets from Sherman saw the guys in blue get within three, 50-47, by the time the under-16 minute timeout arrived.

Then it was time to do something the Irish labored to do in the first half — get some stops. The Irish did just that and had a chance to tie but an Atkins 3 from the corner rolled around and off before a Devon Bookert bucket bumped the Florida State advantage back to five.

“First half and a couple times in the second half it looked like it could get really ugly,” Brey said. “For us to get back and put in position to get that thing to overtime, we had a lot of guys stepping up.”

The Irish were down six with just over nine minutes left following a Sherman tip-in and were looking to get closer when Connaughton drove the lane and was called for a charge. That really bothered Brey, who was promptly slapped with a technical foul by referee Karl Hess. It’s the second time in as many road games that Brey has been handed a technical. Ninety seconds after the call, the Irish were again down double digits.

“I’m kind of earning my stripes in this league,” Brey said.

The loss marked the first time since 2010-11 that the Irish have lost three straight league road games to start conference play. Notre Dame will try it again Saturday at Wake Forest.

NOTRE DAME (11-8): Austin Burgett 2-3 2-3 7, Pat Connaughton 3-12 2-4 9, Garrick Sherman 9-14 3-4 21, Eric Atkins 9-16 2-2 24, Demetrius Jackson 1-2 0-0 2, V.J. Beachem 0-1 0-0 0, Zach Auguste 3-7 2-3 8, Steve Vasturia 1-4 0-0 3. Totals 28-59 11-16 74.

FLORIDA ST. (13-5): Robert Gilchrist 3-3 0-0 6, Boris Bojanovsky 4-7 0-1 8, Devon Bookert 4-5 0-1 10, Aaron Thomas 6-10 6-6 20, Montay Brandon 3-6 0-0 7, Jarquez Smith 0-1 0-0 0, Marquez White 4-8 3-3 12, Ian Miller 4-8 1-1 11, Michael Ojo 1-2 0-1 2. Totals 29-50 10-13 76.

Halftime — Florida St. 41-33. 3-Point Goals — Notre Dame 7-22 (Atkins 4-8, Burgett 1-2, Vasturia 1-3, Connaughton 1-7, Beachem 0-1, Auguste 0-1), Florida St. 8-16 (Thomas 2-2, Bookert 2-3, Miller 2-5, Brandon 1-2, White 1-4). Fouled Out — None. Rebounds — Notre Dame 29 (Connaughton, Sherman 10), Florida St. 26 (White 11). Assists — Notre Dame 12 (Atkins 5), Florida St. 14 (Thomas 4). Total Fouls — Notre Dame 14, Florida St. 13. Technical — Notre Dame Bench. A — 7,799.

TNoie@SBTinfo.com 574-235-6153 Twitter: TNoie@NDInsider

Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey's team suffered another conference loss at Florida State Tuesday. (SBT file photo/JAMES BROSHER)