Notre Dame made a big run Sunday at Greensboro Coliseum. It wasn’t enough to knock off first-place North Carolina.
The Irish lost 83-76 and fall to 6-5 in the Atlantic Coast Conference and 17-7 overall. Since starting league play 5-0, the Irish have lost five of their last six games.
Despite a valiant comeback effort by Mike Brey’s team — which trailed by as many as 15 points in the second half before trimming the deficit to two points with 3:47 left — Notre Dame has lost four straight games.
Where do things go from here?
The Irish host unranked Wake Forest on Tuesday (7 p.m., ESPNews). Notre Dame itself will likely be out of the Associated Press Top 25 after suffering two defeats in the past week.
“We have to play Tuesday night,” Brey said. “We’ve got to turn this thing around really quick.
Because of a broken water main in Chapel Hill, N.C., the game was played a day later in Greensboro, the location of Notre Dame’s 2015 ACC Tournament championship.
This time around wasn’t quite as kind to Notre Dame.
“We have good memories of this building,” said Brey, who noted that the adjustment in travel was no problem and that the Irish practice at UNC-Greensboro on Saturday. “Obviously we needed a little more than karma.”
The delay in schedule does force the Irish to play three games in seven days, a tough draw for a team looking to get back in the win column.
“Just unfortunate that it pushes this game to Sunday and we have to turnaround and play Tuesday,” Brey said. “That’s kind of unfortunate. Quite frankly I’m disappointed that the game Tuesday wasn’t moved to Wednesday, but I signed up for the ACC. I’m a good soldier.”
Beachem Carries Irish
Senior wing V.J. Beachem tallied 18 of his 20 points in the second half and led Notre Dame in scoring. He was 6-of-12 from the field and made all six of his free throws.
His 3-pointer with 3:47 remaining cut North Carolina’s lead to two points. The 6-foot-8, 201-pounder has scored 20-plus points in four of the past five games, all Notre Dame losses.
New Starting Lineup
Brey went with a different starting lineup for the first time this season, inserting senior forward Austin Torres in place of junior forward Martinas Geben. Torres finished with no points and two rebounds in five minutes, while Geben scored two points and had two rebounds in eight minutes.
That lack of production severely hurt Notre Dame in the rebounding battle. UNC out-rebounded the Irish 44-25 and scored 40 of its 83 points in the paint.
The Irish went with their smaller lineup for much of the game. Sophomore guard Rex Pflueger had six points in 23 minutes off the bench. Freshman guard T.J. Gibbs played 18 minutes and had four points.
“Playing small was the only way we were going to have a chance,” Brey said.
Freshman forward John Mooney, who was under consideration for increased minutes, did not enter the game while the result was in doubt.
Time will tell whether Brey makes any more tweaks to the lineup.