Six days off in-between games, and on the first day back, Notre Dame senior Pat Connaughton was battling a stomach virus. Sounds like me after a vacation. Always sick on my first day back. But Connaughton and the No. 10 Irish battled through, beating Wake Forest 88-75 on Tuesday night.
Notre Dame (23-4, 11-3 ACC) weren’t sure what to expect out of Connaughton, who had spent most of the day in the infirmary. They did however know what to expect from Jerian Grant. The senior leader once again helped lead the Irish, scoring 24 points, while dishing out 10 assists and adding five steals.
A slow start made it clear that they might need a game like that from Grant, and he didn’t disappoint.
Wake Forest (12-15, 4-10) plays much bigger than the Irish, and took advantage of them early. Devin Thomas went to work on Zach Auguste and Bonzie Colson, and quickly had the two in early foul trouble. Thomas had 26 points and 11 boards, eight of those boards before the half.
A Grant layup as time was expiring in the first half gave the Irish a 43-41 lead going into the break, but the start to the game wasn’t as positive. The hiatus seemed to have Notre Dame a bit rusty, as the second ranked field goal shooting team in the nation began the game 1-for-12 from the field.
Grant’s bucket before the half led to an Irish run out of the gate in the second half, as they opened up a double-digit lead just two minutes into the second half.
The Demon Deacons fought back late, cutting the lead down to eight with less than five to go. But Connaughton hit a three from the corner – one of his three on the game – to help open the lead back up as the Irish cruised from there.
Grant joined Chris Thomas as the only players in program history with 1,500 points and 600 assists.
After the long break, the Irish will now play two more games over the next seven days. The Irish will travel to Boston College on Saturday, and can match a team record for conference road wins in a season with a victory.