Notre Dame Fighting Irish Basketball Falls At Home To North Carolina State In Fourth Straight Loss
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Notre Dame Falls At Home To North Carolina State In Fourth Straight Loss

A return home to wrap up the regular season made no difference for a slumping team.

Notre Dame lost to North Carolina State 80-69 Wednesday night, its fourth consecutive defeat. The Irish scored the first basket of the game and did not lead after that. They are 9-14 overall and 6-11 in the ACC, down to 11th place.

Here are some numbers and observations from the game.

BOX SCORE

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Notre Dame Fighting Irish men’s basketball junior guard Cormac Ryan
Junior guard Cormac Ryan contributed nine points, nine rebounds and four assists in the Fighting Irish’s 80-69 loss to the Wolfpack. (ACC)

• Notre Dame allowed some students into Purcell Pavilion for the first time this year and sold out of its roughly 400 tickets in eight minutes. They provided a consistent soundtrack, but a “Fire Brey” chant from a couple of them in section 115 made its way through the arena as the final seconds dripped off the clock.

Mike Brey was asked about it afterward.

“I’m committed here, and I’m certainly committed to this group, how it finishes for us this year,” he said. “We have a good group coming back and a good big guy coming in. I’ve thought about that a lot. I’m also realistic about the big picture things, too.

“You want to continue to be effective here. I don’t need to be told if I’m not being effective. I’m a pretty good judge of that. That was well-warranted by our students. That was a poor performance, and they should’ve been on me.”

Added junior guard Cormac Ryan: “That’s not even being considered in our locker room. We’re playing for each other. We know we have each other’s backs.”

• The season came crashing down in the Carrier Dome. The pieces haven’t been picked up by a team that looks like it has checked out and is playing out the string.

• That’s four straight halves where Notre Dame has given up at least 40 points. It’s hard to find even a five-minute stretch in the last two games where the Irish put the clamps on an offense. Opposing points come in torrents. Since giving up the lead with about eight minutes to go in that Feb. 20 loss at Syracuse, Notre Dame has held an advantage for 19 seconds. That spans about 6.5 halves.

• Notre Dame struggled to contain North Carolina State freshman guards Cam Hayes and Shakeel Moore off the dribble. They combined for 28 points on 10-of-17 shooting. At one point in the first half, the Wolfpack had six straight possessions where Hayes took a shot (four times), had an assist (once) or turned the ball over (once). The plan in that stretch was pretty simple: give him a ball screen and let him take what was given, which was often a mid-range jumper or a driving lane.

• To illustrate the ease with which North Carolina State generated looks at the rim: It was 7 of 13 on layups and dunks in the first half, but shot just one free throw. And an offense that entered the game averaging a turnover on 20.1 percent of its possessions in conference play (13th in the ACC) committed just four in the final 38 minutes.

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• Notre Dame had 12 field goals and missed 10 layups in the first half. It was 5 of 15 on shots at the rim. There were a couple misses that had some contact, but the Irish were bothered by North Carolina State’s length when they drove it. Wolfpack forward Manny Bates, the nation’s fifth-leading shot blocker, wasn’t alone in causing problems for Notre Dame. He had three of his team’s 10 blocks. The Irish ended the game 8 of 24 on layups.

The Wolfpack also forced Notre Dame guards to their weak hand a few times, the most notable being an early second-half Prentiss Hubb right-hand drive that he did not finish despite a lack of traffic at the rim.

• Brey, willing to try anything at this stage of the season, gave freshman forward Matt Zona his first minutes since Feb. 2 and first non-garbage time action since late January at Miami. He drew a foul. He also played a five-guard lineup with Nik Djogo at center.

• Overall, this was a disappointing offensive game for Notre Dame against a defense that ranks toward the bottom of the ACC in adjusted efficiency. Notre Dame found its way into the lane with some regularity, but had too many trips there end in empty possessions. On the other hand, the Irish handled North Carolina State’s semi-frequent trapping and attempts to deny perimeter passes well, committing turnovers on 15.7 percent of possessions — just about at the season average.

All told, Notre Dame shot 37.5 percent, 34.5 percent on three-pointers and was 5 of 8 at the foul line. The Irish assisted on 14 of their 27 made baskets.

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