BROOKLYN, N.Y. – For the third straight year, Notre Dame advanced to the semifinals of the ACC Tournament with a 71-58 victory Thursday night over Virginia at the Barclays Center.
The Irish exorcized one nasty demon in the process.
Losers of 10 in a row to Virginia – including all five since entering the ACC four years ago – Notre Dame (24-8) out-defensed the kings of defense and, ultimately, had too much offense for the youth-laden Cavaliers (22-10).
Bonzie Colson scored 21 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for his 19th double-double of the season. Matt Farrell scored 14 points while Steve Vasturia and V.J. Beachem each tossed in 12.
Notre Dame shot 52.2 percent in the first half and 52.2 percent in the second. The Irish took a 10-point lead on a reverse slam dunk by Rex Pflueger less than two minutes into the second half and maintained a double-digit lead the rest of the way.
The victory sends the No. 3-seeded Irish to Friday night’s game against No. 2 seed Florida State, which claimed a 74-68 victory over Virginia Tech. The winner advances to the championship game to take on Friday’s 7:00 p.m. ET winner between No. 1 seed North Carolina and No. 5 seed Duke.
Notre Dame has now won six in a row at the Barclays Center, including two in the NCAA tournament last year and two in the Legends Classic in November.
Leading by six at halftime, Notre Dame scored the first 11 points of the second half to take a 41-26 lead. Virginia went scoreless through the first 5:21 of the second half.
Notre Dame’s lead reached 17 points in the second half. Marial Shayok, who went scoreless in three minutes of first-half action, scored 10 points in the second half to provide the only real flicker of hope for the Cavaliers.
Notre Dame jumped to a 10-2 lead as Rex Pflueger hounded London Perrantes and Steve Vasturia chased freshman three-point shooter Kyle Guy. Virginia’s leading scorer on the season (Perrantes) and in the win over Pittsburgh Wednesday night (Guy) were limited to a mere two points by Perrantes.
Guy never did crease the scoring column, missing all eight of his shots for the game.
Bridging the scoring gap for the Cavaliers were Devon Hall and Darius Thompson, who combined for five three-pointers in the first half.
But the Irish forged a 32-26 halftime lead on the strength of a 17-12 rebounding advantage, led by Beachem’s seven as Colson scored 11 points.
Notre Dame shot 52.2 percent (12-of-23) in the first half. The 4-of-11 shooting from three-point range was a welcome improvement from a 3-of-18 effort in a home loss to the Cavaliers on Jan. 24.
Meanwhile, the Cavaliers managed just 38.5 percent shooting (10-of-26) in the first half. The Irish also held Virginia without an offensive rebound through the first 15 minutes of the game.