Notre Dame comeback falls short against Indiana
INDIANAPOLIS – Just short.
At the Crossroads Classic.
Trailing by as many as 17, Notre Dame battled back to lead by as many as five but couldn't make the plays to close it out. Indiana did and won 62-60 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Armaan Franklin connected on an open 3 in the corner with 15.7 seconds left to push the Hoosiers ahead, 62-60. Prentiss Hubb made one of two free throws to give the Irish a 60-59 lead with 35.9 seconds remaining.
Notre Dame took its first lead with five minutes left on a corner 3 from Dane Goodwin. That made it 55-54. A Hubb reverse made it a 10-0 Irish run and put them up three with 4:20 left. Suddenly, the guys in blue and gold had life. Serious life.
Two John Mooney free throws extended the Irish lead to five, 59-54, with 3:42 left.
The Irish climbed back into it thanks to a 15-2 run midway through the second half. That brought them back within three following a Goodwin lay-in with 8:15 left. But guard Rex Pflueger, who mustered the steal and dish to Goodwin, hobbled back to the locker room favoring his right leg. Just when it seemed Notre Dame was out of it, the Irish were very much in it.
The Irish were down double digits - 48-38 - with 9:46 remaining.
Pflueger suffered a strained groin but returned less than two minutes later.
Down to eight available scholarship players, Notre Dame had senior guard T.J. Gibbs go down clutching his left leg and heading back to the locker room less than seven minutes in. He returned a few minutes later, likely to the relief of his head coach. Gibbs, though, clearly wasn’t himself. He winced every time running up the court and looked to favor the leg the rest of the first half.
Notre Dame looked like it had found something with Pflueger working at point guard. He twice connected with Juwan Durham for buckets — a lob dunk and a lay-in — to help bring the Irish within one, 17-16.
Indiana then started playing with more patience and picked apart the Notre Dame zone. The Hoosiers ran off 10 unanswered at one point to lead by as many as 12.
The Irish came into the contest averaging 17.5 made 3-pointers their last two games. That included 20, which tied the school record, in a win earlier this month over Detroit Mercy. Notre Dame then opened by making one of its first 11 and two of 15 from 3 in the first half.
Saturday was Notre Dame’s third game away from home this season. It lost the first two – at North Carolina and at Maryland – by an average of 16 points.
Seeking to bottle the shooting/scoring efforts from the previous two games — both wins — the Irish went to the first media timeout scoreless. Notre Dame missed its first five shots, three from 3, and trailed 7-0 at the under-16 timeout. Indiana led 7-0. The Irish missed their first seven before Nate Laszewski banged in a wing 3 to cut the Indiana lead to 9-4.
Notre Dame had lost its last two and three of four to Indiana at the Crossroads.
Following another week off for Christmas, Notre Dame closes non-league play with a Dec. 29 home game against Alabama A&M. From then on out, it’s all Atlantic Coast Conference contests, where the Irish are 0-2.