Notre Dame Falls In Regular Season Finale To Pittsburgh, 56-53
Notre Dame (13-18, 3-15) was down 10 points with just over 10 minutes remaining in the second half, but the Irish couldn't complete the comeback allowing Pittsburgh (13-18, 3-15) to pick up a 56-53 win to close out the regular season.
The defeat secured a last place finish in the ACC for the Irish and a seventh-straight loss heading into the ACC Tournament.
Blue & Gold Illustrated recaps the contest between Notre Dame and Pittsburgh half-by-half.
Both teams missed their opening five shots from the field before Pittsburgh wing Au’Diese Toney got the scoring rolling with a free throw line jumper.
The Irish then would follow with three-straight makes from the field with a step-back jumper via guard Prentiss Hubb, a triple from forward Nate Laszewski and a layup via guard TJ Gibbs. The 7-0 run put Notre Dame up 7-2 at the first media timeout (15:26).
Pittsburgh guard Jared Wilson-Frame ended the run right after the timeout with a three-pointer of his own. But Notre Dame countered with back-to-back triples from Hubb and Gibbs to give the Irish their largest lead at 13-5, which was quickly answered by Panthers guard Sidy N’Dir.
Notre Dame led 14-8 at the under-12 timeout thanks to a 5-of-7 run from the field.
Following a jumper from Panthers guard Xavier Johnson, Laszewski got hot and hit three-pointers on back-to-back possessions to force a Pittsburgh timeout with the Irish up 20-10 with 9:01 left.
Toney ended the run after the break with Notre Dame up 20-12 at the under-8 media timeout.
A personal 4-0 spurt from Irish guard Dane Goodwin gave the Irish their largest lead at 24-12, but Goodwin’s jumper at the 7:00 mark would be the team’s last through the next media timeout.
Pittsburgh reeled off a 7-0 run, fueled by a three-pointer via guard Trey McGowens, to cut into the Irish lead (24-19) going into the under-4 media timeout (3:33).
McGowens would light a fire into the crowd at Petersen Events Center with a thunderous dunk while being fouled to make it just a two-point game with Notre Dame up 24-22.
Laszewski would end the run with a layup inside, but McGowens answered again with a three-pointer with just over 10 seconds remaining to make it 26-25 Notre Dame at halftime.
Laszewski finished the half with 11 points and two rebounds to pace the Irish. Hubb and Gibbs each had five points and Gibbs added five assists. Forward John Mooney was 0-of-5 from the field in the opening 20 minutes.
Notre Dame shot 33.3 percent (9-of-27) for the half and 35.7 percent (5-of-14) behind the arc. Pittsburgh also shot 33.3 percent going 10-of-30. McGowens led the Panthers with nine points.
McGowens continued his strong play with the opening bucket on Pittsburgh’s first possession to give the Panthers the 27-26 lead.
Mooney responded with his first points of the game — coming from the free throw line — to give the Irish the lead right back.
Wilson-Frame and Gibbs traded three-pointers to keep Notre Dame up one before Mooney hit his first field goal of the game with 17:48 remaining. Another and-one conversion from McGowens tied the game at 33 before Pittsburgh big man Kene Chukwuka got an offensive rebound and put it right back up to give his team the 35-33 lead at the under-16 media timeout.
A second three-pointer in the second half for Wilson-Frame gave Pittsburgh a 38-35 lead with 13:55 left. Forward Terrell Brown and McGowens would follow up on back-to-back possessions with buckets of their own to give Pittsburgh a 7-0 run and a 42-35 lead to force an Irish timeout (12:31).
D’Dir would hit a three-pointer about a minute later to keep the run going giving Pittsburgh its biggest lead at 45-35 with 10:54 left.
Goodwin would respond though with a personal 6-0 run, including two paint buckets, to give the Irish some momentum. Pittsburgh took a 47-42 advantage into the under-8 media timeout (7:56).
Wilson-Frame connected on his fourth three-pointer of the game and third of the second half to put momentum back on his team’s side at 50-42 with under seven minutes to play.
Laszewski got fire again though with back-to-back three-pointers to keep the Irish within striking distance at 52-48 Pittsburgh with 2:31 remaining. The latter gave the freshman a career-high for triples in a single game (five).
He followed it with another with 2:01 remaining to put the Irish down just one, but Johnson would hit a big jumper to give Pittsburgh a 54-51 lead with 1:31 left.
Laszewski continued his strong played late with his 11th and 12th-straight points for the Irish via the free throw line to keep it a one-point game (54-53).
Pittsburgh would make just 1-of-2 from the line, and the Irish got two offensive rebounds on the next possession but couldn’t convert. However, Gibbs was sent to the line after being fouled at the top of the key with a chance to tie the game at 55.
The junior missed the frontend of the one-and-one, which allowed Johnson to go back to the line with 27 seconds left. The freshman made just 1-of-2, but Mooney was stripped on the other end sending McGowens to the line to ice the game with under 20 seconds to play.
McGowens also missed the frontend, which gave Notre Dame a shot to tie the game. The Irish however couldn’t even get a clean look up allowing Pittsburgh to get the 56-53 victory.
Laszewski finished with a career-high 23 points to go with seven rebounds. Goodwin was the lone other Irish player in double-digits with 10 points and six rebounds. Gibbs and Hubb finished with eight and seven points respectively. Mooney grabbed 13 rebounds, but finished with four points making 1-of-11 attempts from the field.
Notre Dame made 17-of-52 (32.7 percent) from the field and 9-of-26 (34.6 percent) behind the arc after starting 5-of-9 from deep. Pittsburgh shot 42.9 percent in the second half to secure the win.
The loss pushed the Irish to last place in the ACC regular season standings and a matchup with 10-seed Georgia Tech in the first round of the ACC Tournament next week.