The Irish took down NC State on Saturday in the regular season finale. Notre Dame could be heading in the right direction as they head into the postseason.
The Notre Dame basketball team closed out the regular season the right way with a 89-75 win over NC State on Saturday afternoon. With the win the Irish improved to 20-10 on the season and 11-7 in ACC play. The victory also made sure that the Irish will finish no worse than fifth in the ACC and also gives them a chance at finishing the fourth spot in the ACC .
Going into the game it was no secret that the Irish offense had been in a bit of a funk. It seemed like it would stay that way as the Irish started 1-8 from the field, but the Irish got back their efficient ways on offense. They shot 50% from the field and 46% from three-point land. It was apparent ND’s focus was to push the tempo and play fast. Most of the game was an up and down the court affair. Freshman forward Matt Ryan led the way for the Irish in the first half as he came off the bench to score 17 points. Ryan knocked down 4 of 6 three pointers and also grabbed 4 rebounds. He was one of the main reasons why ND took a 45-39 win into the locker room.
NC State was making it a game early in the second half as they used a 12-2 run to tie the game at 53 at the 15-minute mark, but the Irish would soon respond. At the 9-minute NC State was still in the game as they only trailed by 9. Freshman guard Rex Pflueger sparked a 15-6 run with consective 3s to separate Irish and put the game out of reach.
Zach Auguste had a huge day in his last game in Purcell Pavillion. The senior forward poured in 24 points and 11 rebounds on an efficient 8-11 from the floor. It was his 18th career double-double.
I talked yesterday about how the Jackson and Steve Vasturia need to step up, and they did on Saturday. Jackson finished the game with 14 points, 7 assists and 6 rebounds. He did most of his damage in the second half as he scored 12 of his 14 in the game’s final stanza. At one point in the second half Jackson scored 10 straight Irish points, which also helped key the second half run. Jackson still hasn’t found his offensive groove, but his strong second half is a step in the right direction as the Irish head into postseason play. Lastly, Saturday could have also been Jackson’s last home game as they junior may end up declaring for the NBA draft.
Vasturia responded very nicely from his 0-9 performance against Miami on Wednesday night. The junior scored 13 points on 5-9 from the field on Saturday.
The 89 points was the most the Irish have had since they also put up 89 in a win against Clemson in early February. Notre Dame also had 19 assists as a team. They only had 8 in Wednesday’s loss to Miami. The win has to make the Irish feel a little bit better about themselves going into the ACC and NCAA tournament. ND is not gonna win any games on the backs of their defense, so it was nice to see the offense finally turn it around.
Now the Irish will turn around and be huge North Carolina fans on Saturday night in because with a UNC win ND will become the fourth seed in the ACC Tournament. The fourth seed would also guarantee a double bye for the Irish.