Notre Dame’s perfect start to Atlantic Coast Conference play came to an end Wednesday.
Florida State freshman forward Jonathan Isaac scored a career-high 23 points to go with 10 rebounds and six blocks, and the No. 10 Seminoles withstood a late charge by the Irish to win 83-80 and hand Notre Dame its first ACC loss in front of 10,535 spectators at The Tucker Center in Tallahassee, Fla.
It was Florida State’s 16th straight home victory. The home team has won each game in the series since Notre Dame joined the ACC.
No. 15 Notre Dame, Florida State and No. 9 North Carolina are now in a three-way tie atop the ACC at the one-third mark in conference play.
Notre Dame, a six-point underdog according to Las Vegas sports books, was uncharacteristically sloppy at times against the long and athletic Seminoles. The Irish finished with a season-high 18 turnovers, including six by junior point guard Matt Farrell.
Senior guard Steve Vasturia led the Irish in scoring, finishing with 18 points. Farrell added 17 points and seven assists, and senior wing V.J. Beachem had 14 on 4-of-5 three-point shooting.
Florida State (17-2, 5-1 ACC) won the rebounding battle 34-29 and scored 36 points in the paint. The Seminoles hit their final seven field goals to hold off an Irish comeback attempt.
“When we missed a couple free throws, I thought to myself, ‘I don’t know if we have the magic tonight,’” Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey said. “We’ve always made our free throws down the stretch. The two plays that [Xavier Rathan-Mayes] made making the runner and the short jump short challenged, you kind of have a feel, like, ‘Maybe not tonight.’
“A really good team is feeling it in their building and we probably just didn’t have enough.”
After trailing by as many as eight points early in the second half, Notre Dame got its offense going and took a 64-62 lead with 5:40 remaining on a pair of free throws by junior forward Bonzie Colson.
Florida State responded with an 11-1 run to take a 73-65 lead with 3:05 left. Isaac, who finished with his second straight double-double, scored nine of his points during the run, including a three-pointer to start the spurt.
While Notre Dame (16-3, 5-1 ACC) chipped away and got it down to two points, the Irish never had the ball with an opportunity to tie the game.
“I didn’t know he would be a reliable jump shooter like that,” Brey said of Isaac. “I knew he was active around the bucket, I knew he could block shots and fly and rebound and stuff inside, but I didn’t think he could make shots.
“And he made them when the game was on the line, I have a lot of respect for that young man.”
Notre Dame went 15 of 21 from three-point range, forced to shoot over the taller, shot-blocking Seminoles. The Irish finished 27 of 58 from the field (46.6 percent), while Florida State shot 30 of 60 (50.0 percent).
Colson finished with nine points and eight rebounds. Freshman point guard T.J. Gibbs came off the bench to score 12 points, including 10 in the first half.
The Irish held Florida State sophomore guard Dwayne Bacon to just 11 points before fouling out with 27.5 seconds left. Bacon came in averaging more than 17 points a game.
The Seminoles went 13 players deep Wednesday, getting additional scoring contributions from PJ Savoy (12 points) and Jarquez Smith (10).
Notre Dame, which had its seven-game winning streak snapped, returns to action Saturday at home at noon against Syracuse.
“I love our team,” Brey said. “We really believe. My biggest concern is getting rest, because noon Saturday comes really quick at our place with Syracuse.”