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Irish Fall Just Short At North Carolina, 75-69

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Junior forward John Mooney scored 16 points and pulled down a career-high 19 rebounds against the Tar Heels. (Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports)

Notre Dame (11-6, 1-3 ACC) took a three-point lead into halftime against No. 13 North Carolina (13-4, 3-1), but the Irish were unable to hang on for the upset and fell 75-69 to the Tar Heels.Head coach Mike Brey’s group led with less than seven minutes to play before North Carolina reeled off an 18-11 run to close out the contest.

Blue & Gold Illustrated recaps the Irish loss half by half.


It was a little bit of a rough start for Notre Dame with North Carolina freshman guard Coby White hitting a three-pointer right out of the gate and coming up with a steal on the other end.

The Tar Heels took an early 7-2 advantage after buckets from senior forward Luke Maye and sophomore forward Garrison Brooks inside before Irish junior forward John Mooney connected on back-to-back shots in the paint. North Carolina fifth-year senior forward Cam Johnson hit on a jumper shortly after, but Irish junior guard T.J. Gibbs hit a three-pointer to tie the game at nine going into the under-16 media timeout.

The pace picked up after the break with junior forward Juwan Durham getting a bucket after checking in to give Notre Dame its first lead at 11-9.

Each of the next three possessions featured three-point makes, with North Carolina getting two of the trio via Maye and White while Irish freshman guard Prentiss Hubb banked in one of his own. A layup from sophomore wing D.J. Harvey made it 16-15 Irish with 13:47 remaining.

An 8-2 run though pushed the Tar Heels back in control (23-18) with an and-one conversion from Maye and a three-pointer from junior guard Brandon Robinson fueling the quick spark.

Robinson drilled another triple to give his team their largest lead of the game, but Notre Dame forced some stops defensively to help eventually close the gap to 26-23 with 7:23 left in the opening half when Hubb hit his second triple.

The two teams traded baskets up until Robinson made his third three-pointer to put North Carolina up 33-28 with 1:57 remaining. Notre Dame, however, ended the half on an 8-0 run with freshman forward Nate Laszewski knocking down a three-pointer with just a few seconds remaining to give his team the 36-33 lead going into the break.

Harvey led all Notre Dame scorers with seven points in the half, while Mooney, Hubb and Durham each added six points. The Irish finished 13 of 29 (44.8 percent) from the floor and hit 6 of 13 three-pointers (46.2 percent). The Irish did have 10 turnovers in the first half, but forced nine on the other end.


Hubb got off to a good start for the Irish in the second half drilling a three-pointer to extend Notre Dame’s lead to 39-33. The Tar Heels countered with a 7-2 run behind another three-pointer from White to make it 41-40 Notre Dame.

Gibbs and Harvey combined for four points, but was followed with a 5-0 run by UNC’s Maye and senior guard Kenny Williams to tie the game at 45 apiece. Mooney connected on a paint bucket to give Notre Dame a 47-45 edge at the under-16 media timeout.

North Carolina took the lead when Johnson came alive for a minute getting four quick points. However, Harvey made a three-pointer to push the Irish back ahead at 50-49 at the under-12 media timeout.

Freshman forward Nassir Little, a former five-star prospect, finally got into the action for North Carolina, scoring three straight buckets in the paint to help the Tar Heels take a 57-54 lead with 7:53 left. During that stretch, Mooney recorded his ACC-leading ninth double-double at 10 points and 12 rebounds with 11:19 remaining.

A layup from Hubb made it 57-56 North Carolina out of the timeout, but the Tar Heels responded with an 8-2 run to put the Irish down 65-58 with five minutes remaining. White started the spurt with a triple, which was followed by a three-point play from Little, who was fouled by Mooney on his way to the bucket. A runner from Johnson concluded the run, which was ended by a Dane Goodwin free throw with 4:15 left.

The Tar Heels remained up 65-59 at the under-four media timeout.

Harvey hit a three-pointer with less than 40 seconds to play to cut what was a nine-point North Carolina lead (70-61) to six. The Irish would make the Tar Heels work for it in the closing minute, but it wasn’t enough as North Carolina hit enough free throws to close it out and pull off a 75-69 win.

Hubb led all Irish scorers with a career-high 18 points on 6-of-16 shooting, to go along with six assists. Mooney added 16 points and a career-high 19 rebounds to the effort. Harvey gave the Irish a third double-figure scorer with 15 points, but nobody else topped six points.

Notre Dame finished 25 of 61 from the field (41.0 percent) and 10 of 28 (35.7 percent) behind the arc. After committing 10 turnovers in the first half, the Irish had just one over the final 20 minutes.

The Tar Heels shot 39.7 percent (27 of 68) from the field and hit on 42.9 percent of their three-pointers (9 of 21). Head coach Roy Williams’ group did major damage on the glass with 16 offensive rebounds, which led to 11 second-chance points.


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