Notre Dame blitzes, squeaks by Miami

GREENSBORO, N.C. – No. 3 seed Notre Dame converted 11 of its first 15 shots, including 7-of-8 from three-point range, as the Irish went on the offensive from the outset. It all slipped away in the second half, only to claim a 70-63 victory.

GREENSBORO, N.C. – It didn’t take long for No. 3 seed Notre Dame to establish its superiority over No. 6 seed Miami and validate its school-record 14 regular-season conference victories.

It took less than 11 minutes for it to all slip away.

The Irish (27-5) converted seven of its first eight three-point attempts – including all four by Pat Connaughton – en route to a 19-point lead (33-14) just 12:04 into the game. Notre Dame led by 18 – 43-25 – at halftime.

But a 22-4 run to start the second half tied the game at 47. Miami took the lead on a pair of Sheldon McClellan free throws with 6:30 remaining.

Notre Dame eventually righted the ship and went on to claim a 70-63 victory to advance to semifinal action of the ACC tournament Friday night against No. 2 seed Duke, a 77-53 winner earlier in the evening over North Carolina State.

Tipoff will come at approximately 9:30 p.m. ET following the other semifinal game -- No. 1 seed Virginia vs. No. 5 seed North Carolina.

The victory ties the Notre Dame mark for the second most victories in a season, which the 2010-11 squad notched en route to a No. 2 NCAA tournament seed.

Notre Dame made 15-of-24 shots (62.5 percent) and 8-of-13 three-pointers (61.5 percent) in the first half, extending its advantage to 20 points before settling for a 43-25 halftime lead.

Demetrius Jackson set the tone early, pressuring the basketball and attacking the basket. Jackson had five points and four rebounds by the first TV timeout. Meanwhile, Steve Vasturia hounded Miami’s leading scorer, Sheldon McClellan into a 1-of-4 start from the field in the first half.

Angel Rodriguez, Miami’s sparkplug point guard, came off the bench to score eight quick points, despite battling a wrist injury that slowed him the previous four games. But it wasn’t nearly enough to compensate for Notre Dame’s blistering shooting pace.

Notre Dame’s eight first-half three-pointers tied a season high set against Hartford in late-December. But the Irish stumbled to start the second half, allowing Miami to go on an extended run while Notre Dame went 11:56 of the second half before scoring its first field goal – a driving basket by Jerian Grant.

A three-pointer by Steve Vasturia and a driving layup by Demetrius Jackson gave the Irish the lead once again, an advantage this time that they would not relinquish. Notre Dame made just 6-of-19 field-goal attempts in the second half, but converted 14-of-18 from the line.

Notre Dame finished with four players in double figures – Vasturia 16, Connaughton 14 – all in the first half – Grant 13, Jackson 12 and Zach Auguste 11. Rodriguez paced the Hurricanes (21-12), who figure to miss the NCAA tournament with the loss, with 15 points.


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