BROOKLYN, N.Y. – For the second time in three years, Notre Dame (25-8) will play for the ACC championship Saturday night.
The No. 3-seeded Irish shot a sizzling 53.3 percent from three-point range in the first half, streaking to an 18-point lead and holding off a Florida State charge over the final 20 minutes for a 77-73 victory.
Two years ago, Notre Dame shocked the Tobacco Road faithful in Greensboro, N.C. by knocking off No. 5-seeded North Carolina to win the ACC title.
This time, it’s the Barclays Center in Brooklyn against No. 5-seeded Duke – a 93-83 winner over the Tar Heels in the first game Friday night.
The Irish have won eight of their last nine and are 6-1 in their last seven ACC Tournament games spanning three years.
Notre Dame finished 13-of-27 from three-point range while the Seminoles (25-8) missed all seven of their first-half attempts and ended up 5-of-15 on the night.
Notre Dame forced the Seminoles into 18 turnovers. The Irish committed just eight.
Florida State cut Notre Dame’s lead from 18 points to four in the second half on the strength of the unconscious shooting of Braian Angola-Rodas, who scored just one point in nine minutes of first-half action and then tallied 16 points, including four three-pointers, in the second half.
Steve Vasturia’s long offensive rebound off a Matt Farrell miss with less than a minute remaining helped seal the victory, as did a pair of free throws each by Bonzie Colson and Rex Pflueger.
Notre Dame shot 47.5 percent from the field, including 51.6 in the first half.
Vasturia and Colson paced the Irish in scoring with 18 points apiece while Matt Farrell tossed in 15. Notre Dame got 11 huge points off the bench from sophomore Matt Ryan, eight of which came in the first half.
Dwayne Bacon tallied 18 points for the Seminoles and Xavier Rathan-Mayes accounted for 13.
A 14-2 run late in the first half turned a six-point Irish lead into a 42-14 advantage as a Ryan three-pointer – his second of the first half – helped the Irish finish 8-of-15 from beyond the arc in the first half.
Notre Dame had four players with at least eight points by halftime – 11 by Colson and eight each by Ryan, Vasturia and Farrell. Eleven of Notre Dame’s 16 first-half field goals were assisted – five by Farrell.
Notre Dame’s first five field goals were three-pointers – two by Vasturia – and one each by Pflueger, Beachem and Farrell. Meanwhile, the Seminoles missed all seven of their first three-point attempts.
Vasturia gave the Irish an early boost, hitting a pair of three-pointers and a reverse layup. He came into the game converting just 12-of-his-last-58 three-point attempts spanning 12 games.
The Irish also got a bump from the seldom-used Ryan, whose baseline drive and three-pointer within a 1:19 span gave Notre Dame a 31-22 lead.