Notre Dame basketball took top-ranked Virginia down to the wire but came up short in a 62-57 loss.
Two things were evident to start out the game. One, Notre Dame could run with the No. 1 team in the country and two, Bonzie Colson is back.
The senior was a big reason why the Fighting Irish were off to a solid start in the game. But even Colson’s heroics struggled to keep up with Virginia’s three-point shooting.
In just under a five-minute stretch, Notre Dame posted only two points. Virginia was able to capitalize extending their lead to 21-12. All it took was a couple of empty possessions from the Cavaliers for the Irish to fight their way right back into it.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish Basketball
Virginia constantly took Notre Dame down to the final seconds of the shot clock, but the seasoned team never looked flustered. A poor pass from Martinas Geben turned into a putback dunk for Virginia reopening a double-digit lead 28-17. The Irish put the ball right back into Colson’s hands for a three-pointer to answer.
While playing catch up for the majority of the half, Notre Dame just wouldn’t go away. The Irish trailed 32-27 going into the locker room thanks to the big first half from Colson.
In just his second game back after missing 15, Colson put together an 18-point first half while only one rebound shy of a double-double. While the Cavaliers had balanced scoring, the next leading scorer for Notre Dame was Geben with five points. Matt Farrell was held scoreless.
Second half thriller
It didn’t take long for Farrell to find his first points to start off the second half. He would nail a three in the opening seconds to bring Notre Dame within two points.
The Irish continued to battle as a pair of free throws gave Notre Dame a one-point lead. Farrell hit his second three-pointer of the game with 15 minutes left in the game to open the lead to four.
Just when it looked like Notre Dame had the momentum, Virginia’s Mamadi Diakite had a dunk that brought the house down and regained the lead 45-44.
With less than ten minutes left to go, the two least fouling teams in the country found themselves consistently going to the line. Both teams picked up the tempo and Colson knocked down a turnaround jumper that closed the gap 55-54. Everything was in place for a thrilling finish.
Under 60 seconds Virginia held a two-point advantage but came up empty on their offensive possession. As the Irish were met with the fierce defense, they couldn’t get into a set as the shot clock hit :00.
With the shot clock turned off, the Irish were forced to foul and Virginia made their free throws. No. 1 Virginia would go on to win 62-57 over Notre Dame. The Irish will end the regular season 18-13 overall. Most importantly this solid performance against the top-ranked team in the nation is what Notre Dame needed to show the committee for a chance in the NCAA Tournament.