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Notre Dame Pulls Away Against Georgia Tech, 69-59

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After scoring just 24 points in the first half, Notre Dame (13-11, 3-8) found an offensive rhythm going for 45 points over the final 20 minutes to defeat Georgia Tech (11-13, 3-8) 69-59 on Sunday evening in South Bend.

Junior guard TJ Gibbs scored 18 points in the second half to propel the Irish to their third league win and first over a program not named Boston College.

Blue & Gold Illustrated recaps the Notre Dame win half-by-half.

FIRST HALF

Georgia Tech built an early 5-0 lead making 2-of-3 from the floor to open, including a three-pointer via guard Michael Devoe. The Irish missed their opening three attempts carrying over some of their struggles from the Miami loss.

Notre Dame finally got on the board with 17:53 left in the half when forward John Mooney got a layup to fall.

Wing DJ Harvey followed just over a minute later with a jumper in the lane after getting into the middle of the Georgia Tech zone. Before the first media timeout, guard Prentiss Hubb found Mooney down low again and the junior finished through contact and drew the foul.

Mooney’s second bucket gave the Irish a 6-5 lead at the under-16 timeout (15:58).

Both teams couldn’t buy a bucket over the next few minutes with the Yellow Jackets going 1-of-6 from the field with the lone shot coming via another three-pointer from Devoe. The Irish missed their next eight shot attempts following the Mooney make going into the under-16 media timeout.

That allowed Georgia Tech to lead 9-6 with 11:45 remaining in the first half.

It didn’t get much better for the Irish over the next four minutes with just one bucket, which came via Harvey to end what ended up being a scoreless drought of 7:49. During that stretch, Georgia Tech got two paint buckets from Khalid Moore and Jose Alvarado to take a 14-8 edge at the under-8 media timeout (7:39).

Devoe would hit another three-pointer to put the Yellow Jackets back up nine points at 17-8. The Irish were finally able to get the ball into the middle of the Georgia Tech zone a minute later to free up forward Nate Laszewski for a triple.

Mooney would find Laszewski cutting to the bucket on the baseline for a dunk to put the Irish down 17-13 at the under-4 media timeout (3:19). Notre Dame’s defense had held Georgia Tech scoreless for 3:39 at that point with the Yellow Jackets committing three turnovers in that stretch.

A jumper from Gibbs put the Irish back within one possession, but Kristian Sjolund knocked down a triple right after. Sjolund would get an inside bucket less than a minute later, but it was sandwiched between three-pointers from Hubb and Harvey to cut the Georgia Tech lead to 22-21.

Mooney would tie the game with less than a minute left in the half when he made another bucket while getting fouled inside. His free throw made it 24-24 with 49 seconds remaining. Georgia Tech guard Curtis Haywood would make a free throw in the closing 49 seconds to give his team a 25-24 lead going into the break.

Notre Dame finished the first half 10-of-34 (29.4 percent) from the floor and 3-of-16 (18.8 percent) on three-point attempts. Mooney had seven points and six rebounds to lead the Irish and Harvey added seven points as well.

The Yellow Jackets made one less field goal, but did so on 11 less attempts to finish 9-of-23 (39.1 percent). A 4-of-10 effort (40 percent) behind the arc helped give the team the one-point advantage despite nine first half turnovers.

SECOND HALF

Alvarado drilled a triple to open the second half scoring giving his team a two-possession advantage.

But, Notre Dame would respond with a 9-0 in less than two minutes to take a 33-28 lead.

The Irish would get four-straight free throws — two each from Mooney and Hubb — to tie the game at 28.

Gibbs would heave up a three-pointer to try and take the lead, but his shot came off strong allowing the junior to get it back and take it to the hole for a tough bucket.

Notre Dame would get a stop on the other end and turn it into a three-pointer from Harvey to force a Georgia Tech timeout with the Irish leading 33-28 with 16:41 remaining.

That lead quickly evaporated however with Georgia Tech big man Abdoulaye Gueye hit a pair of free throws and Sjolund connected on another three-pointer to tie the game at 33-all with 15:15 left.

In what could be viewed as a summation of Notre Dame’s season, Gibbs would force a steal with just over 14 minutes left and had a wide open opportunity for a bucket in transition. But, Gibbs lost control of the ball and ultimately had to pull back. The ball would eventually find its way back to Gibbs, who hit a deep triple to make up for the mistake earlier in the possession.

Gibbs would get another steal a minute later and would find Hubb in transition for an easy layup and a 38-33 lead for the Irish. Devoe would get a bucket before the under-12 media timeout (11:16) to make it 38-35 Notre Dame.

His strong play would continue for Gibbs with him hitting three free throw attempts after getting fouled on a three-point attempt. A pair of Harvey free throws would negate a bucket from Georgia Tech guard Brandon Alston to make it 43-37 Irish.

The Yellow jackets would cut the Irish lead to three with a three-pointer from Devoe and another field goal via Alston.

But, Gibbs would again get fouled on a three-point attempt making 2-of-3. Hubb would follow with a tough floater from the left side of the bucket to put Notre Dame up 49-42 with 6:57 left.

Notre Dame would take its biggest lead with a 5-0 run behind a pair of hustle plays from Mooney. The junior corralled an offensive rebound off a miss from Harvey, which eventually led to a three-pointer from Gibbs to make it 52-44 Irish.

Two minutes later Mooney would get another offensive rebound with his first tip in not falling, but his second fell to give him a double-double for the contest at 11 points and 13 rebounds and a 10-point lead for Notre Dame (54-44) with just over four minutes to play.

Marcus Banks hit a layup before the under-4 media timeout and was fouled to get his back within single-digits even with missing the free throw.

Mooney would grab another offensive rebound about 40 seconds later to give Harvey a chance at two free throws. The sophomore made one to give the Irish six second-chance points off of Mooney’s three offensive rebounds during that stretch.

Gibbs would put the exclamation point on the contest with 1:35 left making a tough drive to the bucket and finishing earning a three-point opportunity. He converted the chance to make it 58-46 Irish.

The Yellow Jackets couldn’t mount a late comeback allowing Notre Dame to pick up a 69-59 win.

Gibbs finished with 20 points and five assists to lead the Irish, and Harvey added 18 points and eight rebounds to the efforts. Hubb notched 13 points, five rebounds and three assists to go with Mooney’s 11 points and 14 rebounds and round out the team’s double-digit scorers.

Notre Dame shot 32.8 percent from the field (21-of-64) and just 22.2 percent behind the arc (6-of-27). Georgia Tech shot 40.7 percent overall.

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