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Notre Dame's Upset Bid Falls Just Short At No. 4 Virginia, 60-54

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Notre Dame (13-12, 3-9) gave No. 4 Virginia (22-2, 10-2) all they could handle Saturday afternoon with the Cavaliers holding on for a 60-54 victory over the Irish.

Virginia didn't hit a field goal over the final 6:40, but clutch free throws kept Notre Dame from pulling off the major upset.

Blue & Gold Illustrated recaps the contest half-by-half.

FIRST HALF

In the first meeting, it took almost seven minutes for the Irish to score their first points against the Cavaliers.

Notre Dame reversed their fortune a bit getting two tough buckets from guard TJ Gibbs in the opening two minutes.

After guard Kyle Guy made the game’s opening basket on Virginia’s first possession, the Cavaliers missed their next five shots to allow the Irish to take a 4-2 lead going into the first media timeout (16:00).

Guy continued his strong start with back-to-back triples to give his team an 8-4 lead with 13:10 remaining in the opening half. Guard Ty Jerome followed two minutes later to make it a 9-0 Virginia run as the Irish couldn’t buy a bucket.

Gibbs put up two deep shots before the 10-minute mark and connected on both to close the Virginia lead to 11-10. But buckets from Guy and forward Braxton Key put Virginia back up two possessions before the under-8 media timeout.

Gibbs and Guy both had 10 points at the time with both going 4-of-7 from the field. For the Irish though, the rest of the team was a combined 0-of-10 to allow Virginia to take the lead.

It took over 13 minutes, but wing DJ Harvey hit a tough mid-range jumper for the team’s first points from someone not named TJ Gibbs. The sophomore followed on the next possession with a deep three-pointer to make it 16-15 Virginia with just over six minutes left in the half.

Potential NBA lottery pick De’Andre Hunter hit back-to-back free throw line jumpers to extend the lead to five points. A pair of free throws from John Mooney and layup via Harvey again cut the lead down to one.

But Hunter answered again with a corner three-pointer to put Virginia up 23-19 at the under-4 media timeout (2:24).

Another three-pointer from Jerome would give the Cavaliers their biggest lead (eight) at 27-19 with 1:57 left.

But Harvey and Mooney would connect on back-to-back triples to keep the Irish one possession. Big man Jack Salt would get a bucket with around 10 seconds left in the half to give his team a 29-25 lead.

Gibbs and Harvey each had 10 points during the first 20 minutes to lead the Irish with Mooney having the other five. Notre Dame shot 34.6 percent (9-of-26) overall and 33.3 percent (5-of-15) on three-point attempts.

Virginia hit 11-of-29 from the field (37.9 percent) and also posted a 5-of-15 effort behind the arc.

SECOND HALF

Mooney opened the second half with a nice jump hook to put the Irish down just 29-27.

But Guy came out firing in the opening two minutes getting five quick points to help his team extend their lead to 34-27.

Irish guard Prentiss Hubb would get into the scoring backing out of a potential paint bucket in transition for an open three-pointer. Hunter though would connect on a triple shortly after and then set up Virginia big man Mamadi Diakite for a dunk along the baseline to make it 39-30 Virginia with under 15 minutes to play forcing a Notre Dame timeout.

After a timeout from Mike Brey, the Irish answered with another run.

Nate Laszewski started it with a pair of free throws and hit a three-pointer on the next possession for a quick five points. Notre Dame got a couple of stops defensively, which eventually led to a deep three-pointer from Gibbs to make it 39-38 Virginia going into the under-12 media timeout (11:58).

It was still a one-point lead for Virginia at 41-40 before Hunter went on a personal 4-0 run, including a tough mid-range jumper to force a Notre Dame timeout. The Irish trailed 45-40 with 9:44 left.

Notre Dame continued to fight with Gibbs connecting on a tough layup and guard Nik Djogo finding Mooney for a dunk to cut the lead to 45-44 with 8:14 remaining. Hunter again though hit a mid-range jumper to put his team up three (47-44) at the under-8 media timeout (6:52).

The Cavaliers moved the ball on their next possession and found Guy in the corner for a three-pointer, which was followed with a pair of free throws from Hunter to put the Cavaliers back up eight points at 52-44 with 5:35 remaining.

Another pair of free throws from the sophomore gave the Cavaliers a 10-point lead. Notre Dane ended a five-minute scoring drought when Hubb got past the Virginia defense and flushed one home. Virginia led 54-46 at the under-4 media timeout (2:31).

A layup from Hubb would get it down to 54-50 Virginia with just over 40 seconds to play.

Laszewski would force a turnover on a trap with some full court pressure and turned it into a layup and made it 54-52 Cavaliers.

Notre Dame was forced to foul and Virginia wouldn’t squander the opportunity with Guy making four-straight free throw attempts to sandwich a dunk from Mooney to keep his team up by two possessions.

The Irish couldn’t connect on a triple with under 10 seconds remaining to allow the Cavaliers to hold on for a 60-54 victory.

Gibbs finished with 17 points to lead Notre Dame while Mooney notched his 16th double-double with 11 points and 15 rebounds. Harvey added 10 points and six rebounds, and Laszewski contributed nine points.

Notre Dame finished 19-of-55 (34.5 percent) from the field for the contest and 8-of-30 (26.7 percent) behind the arc. The Irish held Virginia to 19-of-52 (36.5 percent) overall.

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