Historic league win for No. 20 Notre Dame in Miami

Tribune Staff Report
ND Insider

CORAL GABLES, Fla. – Notre Dame did it again.

Down in the closing minutes? No sweat.

Find a way? OK.

Close it out on both ends? Done.

Trailing by four points with 2:54 remaining at Miami in the opener of a three-game road trip, the Irish again figured it all out.

Notre Dame scored 10 of the final 11 points, highlighted by a big-time drive and layup by Steve Vasturia. That allowed the No. 20 Irish to finish off a 67-62 victory at Watsco Center.

"That is a fabulous win for us," Irish coach Mike Brey said. "We were going to have to make some big plays to escape. We kind of believe when we're in those situations we're going to figure it out."

The Irish move to 15-2 overall and a school-record 4-0 in league play. The Irish are 2-0 on the road in league play this season and have won all four of their league games by fewer than 10 points.

Notre Dame’s win snapped Miami’s 21-game home win streak.

Vasturia finished with 10 points. His layup with one second left on the shot clock pushed the Irish ahead by three with 8.2 seconds remaining. Matt Farrell shook off another sluggish first half to finish with a team-high 15. V.J. Beachem added 13.

Beachem's reverse layup with 1:05 remaining snapped a tie game and gave the Irish the lead for good, 63-61.

Senior power forward Austin Torres delivered key minutes. He had a rebound dunk and rebound lay-in early in the second half, part of his season high eight points.

The Irish allowed 19 offensive rebounds and were outrebounded 47-38.

A Beachem drive and free throw put Notre Dame up by 11 points with 9:59 remaining. All seemed right for the Irish. But back came Miami, which ran off seven unanswered, highlighted by a Kamari Murphy alley-oop dunk, to get within four with 8:02 remaining.

"We had a hard time keeping them in front of us," Brey said. "I felt they would have a run in them."

A 2-3 zone was strong for the Irish, particularly in the second half.

"That helped us," Brey said. "We felt we'd give up some 3-point shots, which we did. We got deflections in it. They turned it over a little bit."

The Irish defense held the home team without a field goal for a period of 10:04 between the end of the first half and the start of the second. That commitment to guard and rebound and keep the Hurricanes in front allowed the Irish to tear off an 18-3 scoring spurt.

And when Martinas Geben delivered a two-hand dunk, the Irish were up 10, 38-28, with 17:10 remaining. It also a capped a quick 10-0 run to start the second half.

Notre Dame ran off eight unanswered the first 2:18 of the second half to open an eight-point lead. The burst featured five points from Beachem and forced the Hurricanes to call a quick timeout.

"We did a great job starting the second half," Brey said.

The Irish labored through a sluggish first half that saw them trail by as many as six and lead by as many as three. Notre Dame shot 36.4 percent from the field, 14.3 percent from 3 and scored a season-low 28 points in the opening 20 minutes.

Still, they were tied and had a chance with a solid second half.

"Their defense was great the first half," Brey said. "I was thrilled to be tied at halftime."

Eight Irish scored in the first half, but nobody had more than six points (Vasturia). Notre Dame had no answer early for Reed, who scored 10 of the Hurricanes’ first 15 points. But the Irish later settled into a 2-3 zone, which limited Miami’s looks and forced the Hurricanes to shoot 35.7 percent from the field, 37.5 percent from 3.

Notre Dame’s three-game league road swing continues Saturday at Virginia Tech.

Miami guard Davon Reed, left, and Notre Dame guard Steve Vasturia (32) vie for a loose ball during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Thursday, Jan. 12, 2017, in Coral Gables, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)