TAKE A LOT, GIVE A LOT
Nailing 15-of-21 three-pointers on the road – an incredible 68.1 percent – usually is enough for the visiting team to pull off the upset.
No. 15 Notre Dame (16-3, 5-1) did the former but not the latter Wednesday night as No. 10 Florida State (17-2, 5-1) held off a tenacious Irish squad and prevented a fourth straight ACC road victory.
It was a couple of huge three-pointers by Florida State’s 6-foot-10 freshman Jonathan Isaac and the clutch play of Xavier Rathan-Mayes that offset Notre Dame’s torrid shooting from beyond the arc.
Isaac’s bomb with 3:03 remaining – his second within a two-minute span -- completed an 11-1 Seminoles run that turned a two-point deficit into an eight-point lead and an eventual 83-80 Florida State victory.
Rathan-Mayes scored four of his eight points within the last minute-and-a-half of the game to help hold off if not close out Notre Dame, which pulled to within three points on a Steve Vasturia three-pointer with 4.8 seconds left.
“We were in position a couple times,” said Irish head coach Mike Brey. “One of the things we can do is make shots, and we did a better job in the second half of distorting them with the drive and kicking it out.
“In our previous five wins, teams couldn’t finish or make that big shot or the big defensive play. Florida State did it tonight.”
Isaac finished with 23 points, 10 rebounds and seven blocked shots.
“Isaac’s shots were huge, and Rathan-Mayes’ buckets were big,” Brey said. “Their defense bothered us. We turned it over a bunch, but they’re athletic and fresh and they move you around.
“The two threes that Isaac hit in the second half were backbreaking buckets. Those are big-time pressure shots. I have a lot of respect for that guy because some guys can make them in the first half, but can’t make them when it’s crunch time. Along with Rathan-Mayes, those were dagger kind of buckets.”
After Vasturia’s bucket cut it to three, the Irish pressed and stole the in-bounds pass, but couldn’t get the ball out to the three-point line and couldn’t convert on a V.J. Beachem two-point attempt as time expired.
Notre Dame’s 18 turnovers and two key missed free throws contributed to the loss.
The Irish spit it up 13 times in the first half and just five times in the second. Florida State didn’t exactly protect the basketball either as the two teams combined for 34 turnovers.
But mix in Bonzie Colson’s missed front end of a one-and-one and just one-of-two free throws by T.J. Gibbs when the Irish needed it the most and Notre Dame couldn’t get over the hump, despite a respectable 11-of-15 free-throw shooting for the game.
As has been its habit in ACC play, Notre Dame scored 15 of the last 25 points of the game, but it wasn’t enough.
“We missed some free throws that would have helped us down the stretch,” Brey said. “It was probably fatigue from playing against Florida State’s defense and depth.
“When we missed a couple free throws, I thought to myself, ‘Maybe we don’t have the magic tonight’ because we’ve always made our free throws down the stretch. We just didn’t have enough.”
ND’S ACHILLES HEEL
Despite sitting in a tie for first place in the ACC at the one-third mark of the conference schedule, Notre Dame continues to struggle on the opposing team’s offensive boards, which ultimately will be its downfall when the 2017 comes to a close.
In six conference games, Notre Dame has yet to grab more offensive rebounds than its opponent.
Pittsburgh held a 16-12 advantage. Louisville grabbed 14 to Notre Dame’s 11. Miami snagged an impressive 19 offensive rebounds to Notre Dame’s 14. Virginia Tech held a 9-7 edge. Florida State was up 10-1 on the offensive boards in the first half before the Irish narrowed the gap in the second half to 11-8.
Clemson and Notre Dame each had 11 offensive rebounds in Notre Dame’s home victory over the Tigers.
NOTRE DAME’S MIXED BAG
Steve Vasturia’s 18 points led the Irish on 4-of-6 shooting from three-point range while missing seven of nine two-point attempts.
V.J. Beachem nailed a three-pointer three minutes into the game and didn’t score the rest of the half on two missed shots. But it was Beachem who drilled three second-half three-pointers -- tying the game at 49, pulling the Irish within a point two minutes later, and tying the game with eight minutes left.
Matt Farrell had the most up-and-down game of the night for the Irish. He had five first-half turnovers, zero assists and six points in the first half; 11 points, seven assists and one turnover in the second half.
T.J. Gibbs continued to offer a huge spark off the bench after tossing in 13 points at Virginia Tech Saturday. Gibbs played a career-high 25 minutes and scored 12 points on 4-of-5 shooting (2-of-2 from three-point), although 11 of those points came in the first half. He missed his only second-half shot as well as a critical free throw with the Irish trailing by four at the 4:34 mark.
Florida State’s athleticism and depth contributed significantly to the up-and-down performances. Bonzie Colson, Notre Dame’s only consistent interior presence this season, managed just eight shots and finished with nine points and eight rebounds.
The Seminoles blocked 11 shots.
“It’s hard to score against them inside because they block everything,” Brey said. “We needed to make a few more free throws along with those threes to have a different result.”null