Noie: Notre Dame hits new low with loss to last-place Boston College

Tom Noie
South Bend Tribune

It can’t get any worse than this.

Can it?

There was no way that Notre Dame could or should lose its last Atlantic Coast Conference road game Saturday. Not to Boston College. Not to the league’s last-place team. Not to a team that hadn’t played in two weeks because of coronavirus issues and had won one game in this calendar year.

Not to a team that fired its head coach earlier in the month. Lose to those guys? Come on. Can’t happen.

It happened.

Unable to lock in and defend and compete from the start, Notre Dame found a new low to reach in a run of many over recent seasons. It lost to the league’s last-place team. A team that believed it was going somewhere lost to a team going nowhere. It now joins that club following the 94-90 loss in a game it never led.

This Notre Dame season is all but over after this one. With it, out went any hope of getting back to the NCAA tournament. Losers of three straight league games, Notre Dame falls to 9-13, 6-10. In those three games, the Irish trailed for the last 88:21.

Go to the NCAA tournament? Short of winning the ACC tournament, that’s not happening. Again.

“I was worried about today overall,” said Irish coach Mike Brey. “We didn’t know what we were going to see today in Boston College.”

Nobody didn’t expect to see that.

“Basically, what I worried about, played out,” Brey said. “They put it on us. We’re beaten up a little bit today, man.”

Saturday was the 10th and final league road game for Notre Dame. The Irish played like they were tired of the travel and the hotels and the bus rides and everything else. Energy and effort? They didn’t have any of it. Kind of like they wanted to just get on a plane and get home. Give up 94 points and it doesn’t matter how good the Irish offense is. They’re not going to beat anyone giving up 94.

Notre Dame had won 16 of the last 17 in the series. It hadn’t lost at Conte Forum in eight straight meetings. It had never lost at Boston College as a member of the ACC. Last time Notre Dame lost a league game in the Hub, Friends was coming to an end and gas was $1.88 a gallon. The year was 2004.

Notre Dame had never previously lost at Conte Forum as a member of the ACC. But forget any talk about the law of averages (a Brey favorite) and how the Eagles had nothing to lose (they didn’t). There’s no way that what happened in The Heights on Saturday should happen. Not for this Irish program.

“We came in pretty confident,” said point guard Prentiss Hubb.

Seems they were too confident.

There have been some bad games and bad losses during Brey’s tenure. This one has to rank right there at the top. Or bottom. The Irish lost a team that was 1-9 in the league and 3-13 overall. A team that hadn’t played in 14 days. Typically, a team comes off a pandemic pause, and they get wiped out. First time Louisville played after its break, it was beaten by 45 at North Carolina. On Saturday, it looked like it was Notre Dame coming back off the pause. A step slow one possession, a step slower on the next. Little want-to, especially defensively. Transition defense? A rumor.

“We need to defensive rebound a lot better, stay down on shot fakes,” Hubb said.

What was shaping up to possibly be a big week for Notre Dame now dissolves into one that’s really not all that important. Notre Dame wraps the regular season with home games against North Carolina State and Florida State, but why bother? Doing something this season slipped away with these three league road losses. Up 20 at Syracuse, then never in it against Louisville, then Saturday’s circus.

Now it’s just playing out the string. Wait ‘til next year. They’ll be better. Sure.

This one looked a whole lot like a 1999 loss in that same arena. That’s when both teams were members of the Big East. Boston College was winless in conference play — 0-9 — coming in. Not after 40 minutes. That was the last season for the late John MacLeod.

Other than home, where’s this Notre Dame program headed after this one? Who can say?

“It’s been a long road,” Brey said. “Somehow, we’ve got to find some energy.”

They have to find more than that.

• BOSTON COLLEGE 94, NOTRE DAME 90

At Chestnut Hill, Mass.

NOTRE DAME (9-13): Durham 5-6 2-2 12, Laszewski 4-8 2-2 10, Djogo 1-3 0-0 3, Hubb 12-19 1-3 28, Ryan 3-8 1-1 7, Goodwin 6-12 0-0 13, Wertz 7-9 1-2 17. Totals 38-65 7-10 90.

BOSTON COLLEGE (4-13): Jackowitz 0-1 0-0 0, Mitchell 4-8 1-3 9, Heath 6-11 6-9 19, Holtze 1-1 0-0 3, Langford 5-12 9-11 19, Ashton-Langford 6-11 0-0 16, Scott 6-9 4-6 18, Williams 1-3 2-2 5, Karnik 2-3 1-1 5, Kenny 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 31-59 23-32 94.

Halftime_Boston College 42-35. 3-Point Goals_Notre Dame 7-23 (Hubb 3-7, Wertz 2-3, Djogo 1-2, Goodwin 1-5, Laszewski 0-2, Ryan 0-4), Boston College 9-19 (Ashton-Langford 4-6, Scott 2-4, Holtze 1-1, Heath 1-2, Williams 1-2, Jackowitz 0-1, Mitchell 0-3). Rebounds_Notre Dame 31 (Laszewski 8), Boston College 31 (Mitchell 8). Assists_Notre Dame 17 (Hubb 7), Boston College 13 (Ashton-Langford 6). Total Fouls_Notre Dame 24, Boston College 17.

Notre Dame guard Prentiss Hubb past Boston College’s Sam Holtze during the first half of Saturday’s game.