Notre Dame worked overtime to avoid this kind of scenario.
After Wednesday’s late night win at Wake Forest, the Irish stayed off campus, getting a wavier from the University to miss an extra day of classes and prepare for Florida State without logging unnecessary air miles. Those extra accommodations didn’t show Saturday afternoon in Tallahassee, likely making for a quiet flight home for the first time in five days.
Not only did Notre Dame fall at Florida State and lengthen their odds of earning a double bye in next month’s ACC Tournament, the 77-56 loss looked more like a team playing out the string, not prepping for a March run.
It was Notre Dame’s lowest scoring game of the year.
The Irish (19-9, 10-6) finish with home dates with Miami and North Carolina State, but even sweeping the regular season’s final week wouldn’t assure Notre Dame of that double bye. The Irish are likely to open their ACC Tournament defense on Wednesday, March 9 as a No. 5 or No. 6 seed.
It’s difficult to single out what got Notre Dame into this position against Florida State in a game that had moments of total system failure for the nation’s most efficient offense.
“I think we played a little fast,” Brey said on Notre Dame’s postgame radio show. “I thought we really weren’t ourselves much today. That’s something we’re gonna have to get back and address and work out. Because we’re gonna have to score and be efficient offensively to stay alive in March.”
The Seminoles (17-12, 7-10) put runs of 9-0 and 7-0 on the Irish in the first half and led by as many as 24 points in the second as Notre Dame never threatened after falling down 30-20 just seven minutes into the game after a Devon Bookert three-point shot.
The Irish got little from anyone beyond Zach Auguste, who posted his 16th double-double of the season with 12 points and a career-high 17 rebounds.
Demetrius Jackson was the only other Notre Dame starter to hit double-figures with 13 points, but he also posted four assists against four turnovers. It was just the fourth time all year Jackson finished with a flat assist-to-turnover ratio. Notre Dame is 1-3 in those games.
Both Bonzie Colson (three points) and Steve Vasturia (five points) finished with season-low scoring marks in ACC play. Vasturia went blank from three-point range and shot 2-of-8 from the field.
The Irish still shot 7-of-17 from three-point range and committed just 11 turnovers, but the Seminoles controlled the game throughout, winning the rebounding battle 40-35 that felt like more of a blowout because Florida State also finished with seven blocks compared to Notre Dame’s one.
Florida State, which entered on a five-game losing streak, scorched Notre Dame from deep and shot 11-of-24 from three-point range. The Seminoles had shot just 16-of-50 from deep in the previous three games and those 11 made triples marked a season-high.
“Disappointed in our defense,” Brey said. “We were out of position. They made some big-time shots and shot it great, but we’re gonna have to be better at (ball screen defense) if we’re gonna play into March.”
Dwayne Bacon led Florida State with 21 points and was one of five different Seminoles to hit three-point shots.
The Seminoles led by 16 points at halftime and never let the Irish back into the game after the break.
Now the Irish have to look forward, knowing they must rediscover a form good enough to beat North Carolina and Louisville, plus win at Duke.
“We’ll accept responsibility,” Brey said. “We’ve had great wins together. We got thumped today.
“Our offensive efficiency is gonna have to be high or our March is gonna be quick.”