RECAP: Irish Still Can’t Find An Answer For The Cavaliers; Fall To 6-2 In League Play

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After ending their losing streak against Syracuse, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish could not end their other drought against the Virginia Cavaliers losing 71-54 at home.

The series between Virginia and Notre Dame may be in the Irish’s favour when it comes to football, but in basketball, the Cavaliers have won the last nine games, with yesterday’s game being number 10.

Before yesterday’s game, the Cavaliers were 9-1 in the all time series, with Notre Dame’s only win coming from the 1980-81 season in which the Irish won 57-56.

Since entering the ACC, Notre Dame has been able to take care of ACC powerhouses like Duke, Syracuse and North Carolina, but have struggled immensely against Virginia.

Yesterday’s loss against the Virginia Cavaliers has taken a hit to the Irish’s position in the ACC standings. Notre Dame and Virginia are now tied for second with North Carolina and Florida State sharing the number one spot.

It was an off night for the Irish against a team that prides itself in defence. Notre Dame managed to keep it close in the first half with their biggest deficit being seven points. The Irish led a few times during the first half before going into the locker room down 27-26.

In the first half, the Irish shot 44% from the field, 20% from the three point line and went two for three from the free throw line.

The Irish kept up with the Cavaliers for majority of the second half, only being down six points with just over five minutes left in the game.

However the Cavalier would go on an 11-2 run with one minute left, putting the Irish out of reach of making a comeback.

Virginia would go on to win 71-54, knocking the Irish out of first place in the ACC.

The Irish finished the night shooting 41.7% from the field, and a season low 16.7% from three point territory. The Irish also shot 64.7% from the foul line and were out rebounded 38-22.

Following the game Irish head coach Mike Brey opened his post game press conference stating:

“They’re really good, they imposed their will on us. I thought, you know, some of the looks we had in the first half from the three point line, were good ones, you got to make those if you’re going to hang around and you got to make some shots over the top and we didn’t”.

Despite the off night the Irish had, Bonzie Colson had a great game, leading his squad in points scoring 20, but only grabbed three rebounds which is uncharacteristic of him considering he averages 10.9 rebounds a game. However, regardless of all this, Bonzie shot an impressive 72% from the field and blocked three shots.

Steve Vasturia was the other Irish player to score double digit figures, recording 14 points, dishing out four assists and grabbing five boards.

Matt Farrell recorded eight points and dished out five assists, while VJ Beachem only recorded three points, two rebounds and three blocked shots.

Coach Brey stayed positive after the game when talking about VJ:

“VJ had great looks, he just missed them. He had some really good looks in the first half and that’s the kind of thing that gets him going. Second half he forced a couple, but everybody did”.

Martinas Geben did not record a point in yesterday’s game while Rex Pflueger led the Irish bench in points scoring four. The sophomore also grabbed four boards and recorded two steals.

The Irish are off until Saturday afternoon where they will take on Georgia Tech in Atlanta. Tip off is set for 12 PM with the game broadcasting live on ESPNU.

“I think we’ll move on pretty quick”, said Coach Brey, “one of the things we have been doing after six wins and after two losses is really onto the next one quick. I have a lot of confidence in our leadership and where we’re at and the big picture of things. We’re thrilled we are six and two.”

Georgia Tech is coming off a loss themselves to Virginia and will play Florida State on January 25th before hosting the Irish. The Yellow Jackets are currently sitting at 8th place in the league standings with a record of 11-8. But as Mike Brey indicated previously; this is a deep league consisting of teams that are capable of winning against anyone.

While it might be tempting, the Irish cannot be caught looking ahead to their bigger matchup against Duke two days later.

-R. Scarfone