Wednesday night was a bitter sweet night when the Notre Dame Fighting Irish defeated the Boston College Eagles. On one hand the Fighting Irish solidified their spot in the double bye club in the up and coming ACC tournament and are still in the hunt to share the regular season title with North Carolina.
The Irish also won their 12th league game and sent seniors Steve Vasturia and VJ Beachem out with a win; something the two of them both deserved considering what they accomplished in their Notre Dame career.
“Couldn’t have script it any better”, said Head Coach Mike Brey following the game. “Two seniors have fun, you can take them out of the game to a standing ovation with a minute and a half left…certainly a great way to finish our season in front of our home crowd”.
Wednesday was the final night that the Irish home crowd would see Vasturia and Beachem suit up in the Purcell Pavilion. Lucky for the Irish (no pun intended), they still have a minimum of three games left to see these two Irish players play; but let’s hope it’s more than the minimum.
Notre Dame won in fashion Wednesday night and did not let the Eagles hang around like they did in their previous match this year. Notre Dame won round 1 this year by only eight points to a struggling Eagles teams that is 9-21 this year.
While Notre Dame won by 16, the first half was a lot closer than expected. Up until the seven minute mark, the Irish were actually losing by seven. But that didn’t last very long.
The Irish put their foot on the gas, going on a 17-2 run to close out the first half up 36-28. In the first half, the Irish shot 46.9% from the field and 38.5% from beyond the arc, but went one for five from the charity stripe.
Notre Dame kept a consistent 10 point lead after losing a bit of their lead to start the second half. It wasn’t until the 10 minute mark when they started to out score Boston College and eventually built a good enough lead to give another one of their seniors a moment in the lime light.
Patrick Mazza, checked into the game for the first time since playing a few minutes in December. Mazza made the most of his limited playing time recording a nice block and threw down a monster slam dunk with six seconds left which electrified the crowd. You couldn’t keep the Irish bench off the court with how excited they were.
Graduate student Patrick Mazza has an interesting story and one that is unique to any player on the team or even the country.
Mazza started out as a walk on defensive end for the Fighting Irish football team, playing from January 2014-January 2016. His only playing time in his career came in the final seconds of the Stanford game back in 2015 in which he was tasked with blocking the, what would become, game winning field goal.
Mazza then gave up football, but was involved with the events around Notre Dame’s campus. Every year, Notre Dame’s students run an outdoor five on five “Bookstore Basketball Tournament”. Patrick is a two time champion in this tournament and caught the eye of Irish Head Coach Mike Brey. Coach Brey knew the Irish were losing key big man Zach Auguste and felt Mazza could add depth.
The Irish went on to win 82-66, handing Boston College their 13th straight lost. Notre Dame is now second in the ACC standings and if they can win their final game of the regular season and the Tar Heels lose their final game to Duke, Notre Dame will get a piece of the ACC regular season title.
“I told them, ‘I don’t want anybody talking about a double bye. I want us thinking about trying to share the regular season championship’”.
In their final home games of their career, VJ Beachem dropped 22 points, grabbed four rebounds and recorded a steal while Vasturia recorded 10 points, grabbing five rebounds and dishing out three assists.
Bonzie Colson was spectacular as always, recording his 18th double-double of the season, an ACC best, dropping 18 points and grabbing 11 rebounds.
Matt Farrell played well, scoring 14 points grabbing three rebounds, dishing out three assists and committing two steals while Rex Pflueger recorded six points and four rebounds.
Notre Dame will close their regular season schedule in Louisville Kentucky, taking on the #8 Louisville Cardinals. The Fighting Irish have already won one game against the Cardinals this season, beating them by seven back in January.
Tip-off is set for Saturday March 4th at 2 PM, broadcasting live on CBS.
– R. Scarfone