Notre Dame sees early-conference basketball magic end at Florida State

NDI Staff Report
ND Insider

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – It happened to every other Atlantic Coast Conference team, and on Wednesday, it finally happened to No. 15 Notre Dame one-third of the way through league play.

The lone unbeaten league team coming into a third-straight road game, the Irish saw their seven-game win streak, which included five in a row to start ACC play, end with an 83-80 loss to No. 10 Florida State at the Donald L. Tucker Center.

"That lived up to its billing, huh?" Irish coach Mike Brey said. "Two really good teams going at it. I'm really proud of our group in a tough atmosphere. We hung in there."

Notre Dame is 1-3 against ranked teams.

A Rex Pflueger wild 3 from the corner brought Notre Dame within two, 79-77, with 16 seconds remaining. A Steve Vasturia 3 brought the Irish within three with four seconds remaining. Notre Dame stole the inbound pass following Vasturia’s bucket but couldn’t get off another good shot in the final seconds.

The Irish (16-3; 5-1) committed a season-high 18 turnovers.

"Their defense bothered us," Brey said.

Vasturia led Notre Dame with 19 points. Matt Farrell added 17.

"They really guarded us," Vasturia said. "And hit some big shots."

Freshman Jonathan Isaac led the Seminoles (17-2; 5-1) with 23 points, 17 in the second half. Florida State made its last seven shots from the floor and converted all six free throws in the final 25 seconds to hold off Notre Dame.

Notre Dame was out-rebounded 34-29. That included 11 offensive rebounds that led to 14 points. The Seminoles also scored 36 points in the paint.

The Irish shot 11-of-15 (73.3 percent) from the foul line. They missed three free throws in the second half.

"When we missed a couple free throws I thought to myself, I don't know if we have the magic tonight," Brey said. "We always made our free throws down the stretch.

"We probably just didn't have enough."

Notre Dame made 15 3-pointers.

"We were in position, man," Brey said. "One of the things we can do is make shots."

Bonzie Colson gave the Irish a 64-62 lead with 5:40 remaining, but the Seminoles promptly went on an 11-1 run to go up by eight.

Down by as many as eight in the second half, Notre Dame tied it at 49 on a V.J. Beachem trail 3-pointer with 12:24 remaining. Another Beachem 3, his third of the second half, tied it at 58 with eight minutes remaining.

"We always think we're in games," Vasturia said. "It just wasn't enough. We kept believing. We never thought we were out of the game until it ended."

The Irish started a school best 5-0 in conference play and entered Wednesday’s game alone in first place in what’s considered the toughest conference in the country.

Rattled by the Florida State physicality, Notre Dame trailed by as many as eight and was down six at intermission. The Irish came into the contest averaging nine turnovers a game, then fumbled it away 13 times in the first half.

"They've done it with great toughness and great depth," Brey said of the Seminoles.

The Irish dug in defensively and forced 12 first-half turnovers, a school record for a first half of an ACC game.

The opening 20 minutes also included a bench technical on Mike Brey, who did a not-so-slow burn through much of the first half.

Four of Notre Dame’s first five baskets were from 3 Wednesday, including a pair from T.J. Gibbs, who was coming off a career-best 13 points at Virginia Tech.

Gibbs had 11 in Wednesday’s first half. He finished with 12.

Serious Florida State depth took an early toll on Notre Dame. The Seminoles went 13 players deep – 13 – in the first 7:09. So much mix and matching forced the Irish into six turnovers in barely the first six minutes.

When Farrell connected from 3 for the first Irish basket, it marked the 600th-straight game that Notre Dame has made at least one 3-pointer in a game. It’s been since January of 1999 that the Irish last went 3-pointerless in a game. It happened that year, John MacLeod’s last as head coach, at Connecticut.

Notre Dame entered Wednesday’s third-straight ACC road game having won a season-high seven straight. The Irish logged over 3,900 air miles in its three games — trips to Miami, then on to Blacksburg, Va., before returning to campus and leaving again Tuesday night for Northwest Florida.

Miami had a 21-game home win streak prior to last week’s Irish win. Virginia Tech had a 15-game home win streak. Florida State has now won 16 in a row at home.

Wednesday was the fifth-straight game of six in a row against ranked teams for Florida State, which lost in league play for the first time this season Saturday at North Carolina.

Notre Dame returns home Saturday to host Syracuse, the first in a stretch of three of the next four at Purcell Pavilion.

• No. 10 FLORIDA STATE 83, No. 15 NOTRE DAME 80

At Tallahassee, Fla.

NOTRE DAME (80): Bonzie Colson 3-8 3-5 9, Martinas Geben 1-1 2-2 4, V.J. Beachem 5-11 0-0 14, Steve Vasturia 6-15 2-2 18, Matt Farrell 6-13 2-2 17, Matt Ryan 1-1 0-0 3, Austin Torres 0-0 0-0 0, T.J. Gibbs 4-5 2-4 12, Rex Pflueger 1-4 0-0 3. Totals 27-58 11-15 80.

FLORIDA STATE (83): Jonathan Isaac 7-9 7-7 23, Michael Ojo 1-2 0-0 2, Dwayne Bacon 5-13 0-3 11, Xavier Rathan-Mayes 4-7 0-0 8, Terance Mann 0-2 0-0 0, Brandon Allen 0-1 0-0 0, Phil Cofer 1-2 0-0 2, Jarquez Smith 3-6 4-7 10, Christ Koumadje 1-1 0-0 2, Trent Forrest 2-4 0-0 4, C.J. Walker 3-5 2-3 9, Braian Angola-Rodas 0-1 0-0 0, P.J. Savoy 3-7 3-3 12. Totals 30-60 16-23 83.

Halftime--Florida St. 39-33. 3-Point Goals--Notre Dame 15-21 (Beachem 4-5, Vasturia 4-6, Farrell 3-4, Gibbs 2-2, Ryan 1-1, Pflueger 1-3), Florida St. 7-17 (Savoy 3-6, Isaac 2-2, Walker 1-2, Bacon 1-3, Rathan-Mayes 0-1, Allen 0-1, Angola-Rodas 0-1, Smith 0-1). Fouled Out--Bacon. Rebounds--Notre Dame 23 (Colson 8), Florida St. 32 (Isaac 10). Assists--Notre Dame 18 (Farrell 7), Florida St. 15 (Rathan-Mayes 7). Total Fouls--Notre Dame 21, Florida St. 18. Technicals--Notre Dame team.

Notre Dame forward Bonzie Colson (35) makes a basket over the defense of Florida State forward Jarquez Smith (23) in the first half of Wednesday's game in Tallahassee, Fla. (AP Photo/PHIL SEARS)