Another tough one in ACC for Notre Dame as Irish fall to Georgia Tech, 63-61

Tribune Staff Report
ND Insider

ATLANTA — At this point, ACC stands not for Atlantic Coast Conference but Another Conference Crusher for the Notre Dame men’s basketball team.

Junior power forward John Mooney scored 22 points with 14 rebounds and freshman Nate Laszewski added a career-high 19 points, but it wasn’t enough as Notre Dame lost a third-straight ACC game on Tuesday night, 63-61, at Georgia Tech.

The Irish fall to 11-8 overall, 1-5 in the conference.

Bad weather back home was expected to keep Notre Dame from returning home until sometime Wednesday morning.

Mooney entered Tuesday’s game averaging 17.5 points and 17.5 rebounds in his last two league games. He tallied his fifth-straight double-double for points and rebounds and league-leading 11th overall — by halftime.

Three Laszewski free throws after being fouled on a missed 3 brought the Irish within two, 59-57, with 2:46 remaining. That capped a 10-1 Irish run.

But there were too many empty possessions and missed opportunities late in the game. Again.

Two T.J. Gibbs free throws got the Irish within two, 61-59, with 10 seconds left.

Notre Dame led by two at intermission, 30-28, before a spirited start to the second half featured six ties and eight lead changes in the first 9:37. A Khalid Moore corner 3 gave the Yellow Jackets a 46-42 lead.

The Irish trailed by three, 47-44, with 7:19 remaining when ND coach Mike Brey was slapped with a technical foul after voicing his displeasure over a foul call on Gibbs. Two Jose Alvarado free throws put the Jackets up five. A Michael Devoe basket then made it seven before a Gibbs 3 brought the Irish back within four with 6:45 left. Gibbs was 0-for-6 from 3 before getting that one to go.

Georgia Tech (11-8, 3-3) then bumped its lead to 11 with just over five minutes to play.

This was game that featured two league teams that have been challenged to score consistently. The teams then combined to shoot 11-for-32 in the first nine-plus minutes.

Both teams played large doses of zone defense.

Georgia Tech was coming off a 28-point home loss Saturday to No. 23 Louisville, its third loss in its previous four league games.

Notre Dame was without junior power forward Juwan Durham for a second-straight game while he recovers from a sprained ankle suffered New Year’s Day. Durham’s absence meant another appearance from freshman power forward Chris Doherty, who made his collegiate debut in Saturday’s loss to No. 21 North Carolina State with six scoreless minutes.

Doherty checked in coming back from the under-12 timeout in the first half and was whistled for a turnover (travel) and offensive foul in less than two minutes. That was part of a stretch where the Irish committed five turnovers in a four-plus minute span.

Early on, it was ugly. And sloppy. But the Irish were able to find a rhythm offensively with Laszewski getting eight straight points, including two 3s, to close the gap and give the Irish some life. Mooney then followed with a rebound and a bucket to tie it at 26. Mooney added a pair of free throws with 29 seconds left in the half to give the Irish their first lead, 30-28.

Following six ties and one lead change, that was the score at the break. The Irish had led at half in three of their first five league games.

James Banks was a problem early for the Irish. The Texas transfer, who played at LaLumiere in LaPorte, had six early points in the post. He also tagged Mooney with an early foul, which forced the big man to play a bit passively so as not to pick up a quick second. Banks then disappeared for the rest of the half.

Notre Dame had lost its previous three games at McCamish Pavilion by a total of 10 points. It hasn’t won on the Georgia Tech campus since January 2015, when former power forward Zach Auguste was left home to deal with an academic issue and the college basketball world first learned of Bonzie Colson.

Georgia Tech is one of four repeat league opponents for Notre Dame. The teams meet again Feb. 10 in South Bend.

Notre Dame returns to action at home Saturday — its fourth-straight Saturday league home game this month — against No. 3 Virginia. Following that is a visit from No. 2 Duke. The Irish are 0-2 this season against ranked teams and 0-10 since their last win over a ranked team early last season.

GEORGIA TECH 63, NOTRE DAME 61

NOTRE DAME (11-8): Mooney 10-20 2-2 22, Hubb 0-4 0-0 0, Gibbs 2-11 2-2 7, Harvey 1-8 2-2 4, Goodwin 2-10 1-3 6, Laszewski 5-10 5-6 19, Doherty 0-0 0-0 0, Djogo 1-2 0-0 3. Totals 21-65 12-15 61.<

GEORGIA TECH (11-8): Gueye 5-12 3-6 13, Banks 8-13 0-0 16, Haywood 0-5 0-0 0, Alvarado 4-12 6-6 16, Devoe 4-7 1-2 11, Moore 3-3 0-1 7, Wright 0-0 0-0 0, Cole 0-0 0-0 0, Phillips 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 24-52 10-15 63.<

Halftime—Notre Dame 30-28. 3-Point Goals—Notre Dame 7-30 (Laszewski 4-9, Djogo 1-2, Goodwin 1-5, Gibbs 1-8, Harvey 0-3, Hubb 0-3), Georgia Tech 5-19 (Devoe 2-5, Alvarado 2-7, Moore 1-1, Gueye 0-1, Haywood 0-5). Fouled Out—None. Rebounds—Notre Dame 34 (Mooney 14), Georgia Tech 29 (Banks 10). Assists—Notre Dame 15 (Hubb, Gibbs 5), Georgia Tech 11 (Devoe 5). Total Fouls—Notre Dame 13, Georgia Tech 15. Technicals—Notre Dame coach Mike Brey.

Notre Dame’s John Mooney (33), here in ac tion against Boston College last week, led the Irish with another double-double Tuesday night at Georgia Tech.