RECAP: Notre Dame’s Hot Shooting Night Not Enough To Take Down Seminoles

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(Source: Notre Dame Athletics)

Notre Dame suffered their first conference loss of the season last night to the top 10 Florida State Seminoles 83-80 but still remain atop the ACC.

The Irish are now 5-1 in ACC play and 16-3 overall despite going 15 for 21 from the three point line; that’s 71.4% in case you prefer percents. They shot better from beyond the arc than the field (46.6%) and were slightly shy from passing their free throw percentage. However regardless of the mesmerizing shooting efforts, Florida State took care of the Irish defensively.

“I think you got to give Florida State a lot of credit”, coach Mike Brey commented following the game, “Their defence bothered us, we turned it over a bunch but they’re athletic and they’re fresh and they move you around”.

Florida State is one of the nations up and coming teams ready to make some noise in March and their performance indicated they are ready to compete in the ACC with the traditional powerhouses.

“The teams that maybe struggled in previous years really at the bottom of the league, they’re much improved and so this is the recipe for 10 bids, 11 bids” stated coach Brey.

The Seminoles have only lost two games this season, one against the Temple Owls at the beginning of the season and another to the #11 North Carolina Tar Heels (now #9) while beating the #21 Florida Gators (now #19), the #12 Virginia Cavaliers (now #16), the #7 Duke Blue Devils (now#18) and now yesterday against the #15 Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

This was the Irish’s last game before returning home after a three game road series that included Miami, Virginia Tech and now Florida State. The Irish pulled off big wins in both Miami and in Blacksburg, Virginia and were hoping to return home 6-0 in ACC play.

This game was a shootout from start to finish, with the difference in score being as much as three to four points for the majority of the first half until a three pointer made by Florida State’s own PJ Savoy followed by a dunk by Dwayne Bacon put the Seminoles up eight with two minutes left.

The Irish managed to score four more points before Florida State’s defence shut Notre Dame down, preventing them from scoring for the remaining two minutes of the opening half.

Notre Dame went into half time down 39-33 after shooting 46.2% from the field and an impressive 66.7% from beyond the arc. It only got better, shooting wise, for the Irish in the second half as Notre Dame looked to attack Florida States fast defence with their deadly perimeter shooting.

Notre Dame came back in the second half, tying the ball game twice thanks to VJ Beachem finding his stroke, before achieving their first lead since the first half with under seven minutes left in the game.

However the Irish would fall behind as Jonathan Isaac sparked a 6-0 run for the Seminoles with just over five minutes left in the game. Notre Dame would eventually be down 77-70 with one minute left, but the Irish were not done fighting.

The Fighting Irish would go on a 7-2 run before sending the Seminoles to the free throw line. But a combination of free throws and a lack of time put the game out of reach for the men in blue and gold.

Irish guard Steve Vasturia managed to make one last three pointer to bring the score within three, but it wasn’t enough to pull off the upset in Tallahassee. Notre Dame would lose their first game in their conference schedule 83-80.

Regardless of the lost, coach Brey was positive as ever following the game:

“You know everyone says this is a gruelling league, it’s a fun league, it’s a fun league to coach and play in, I mean it’s big games, great challenges, every night really good players, I think it is awesome what has been set up here with the expansion” said coach Brey.

Steve Vasturia led the Irish squad in scoring, recording 18 points, shooting 6-15 from the field and 4-6 from beyond the arc.

Matt Farrell shot 6-13 from the field, recording 17 points and seven assists, while VJ Beachem dropped 14 points after getting hot in the second half. Beachem went 5-11 from the field and 4-5 from three point territory.

Bonzie Colson was close to recording yet another double-double but still contributed scoring nine points and grabbing eight boards, while Martinas Geben recorded only four points, two assists and two rebounds.

Freshman Temple Gibbs had another outstanding game, as he was very active especially in the first half where he recorded 11 of his 12 points. Gibbs put the Irish up by three with under 10 minutes left in the first after pick pocketing Florida State and taking it to the hoop.

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The Notre Dame Fighting Irish will need a short memory as the Syracuse Orangemen are coming to South Bend on January 21st with a tip off set for 12 PM EST, broadcasting live on ESPN.

Regardless of the Orangemen being unranked thus far with a win-loss record of 11-8, Syracuse is one of the ACC’s traditional powerhouses that possesses an athletic team each year capable of giving any team fits. The Irish need to be prepared to duke this one out for 40 minutes.

– R. Scarfone