Notre Dame Basketball: Huge Irish comeback tops Virginia Tech in ACC Tournament

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 07: Matt Farrell
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 07: Matt Farrell /

Despite a 21-point deficit, Notre Dame basketball completed the comeback in 71-65 victory over Virginia Tech

After narrowly beating Pittsburgh in the first round of the ACC Tournament, Notre Dame basketball needed another win to keep their NCAA Tournament hopes alive. A win over Virginia Tech would look good on the Irish’s resume.

Off the tip, passes were quick and crisp from both teams as they looked to push the tempo and play aggressively. It was clear right away that both teams knew what was on the line in this one. The aggressive play resulted in good looks, but nervous shots. The ball just wouldn’t fall.

As Matt Farrell drove to the basket he bounced it back out to Rex Pfluger who drew in the help defense before dishing it to the corner. T.J. Gibbs took care of the rest as he knocked down the three to tie the game up 8-8 right before the first media timeout.

Virginia Tech’s game plan was an obvious one. Take Bonzie Colson out of the game. With just a two-point lead 15-13, the Hokies were successful forcing Colson to a 0-for-3 start from the field.

Almost 11 minutes into the game Colson finally found the bottom of the net. The Irish needed it desperately after missing their last six field goals.

Pedal to the metal

Notre Dame Fighting Irish Basketball
Notre Dame Fighting Irish Basketball /

Notre Dame Fighting Irish Basketball

Yet it wasn’t enough to stop the current bleeding. Virginia Tech stepped on the gas for a 12-2 run, resulting in a 23-17 lead and a Mike Brey time out.

At times it looked like Virginia Tech’s defense was just too good. The Hokies kept the pressure on. As it gassed Colson, turnovers started to pile up, turning into transition baskets on the other side.

The Hokies never looked back as they ended the first half on a 23-6 run. Shooting only 25.8 percent from the floor, Notre Dame found themselves in a 34-21 hole at halftime.

The defense was doing all they could in the first half, but that didn’t carry into the second half. No matter what line up Brey used, it wasn’t enough. The Hokies pushed out to a 19-point lead at the under-16 timeout.

The comeback

Notre Dame offensively started to click as their shooting improved. The only issue was getting stops on the other side of the floor. Virginia Tech couldn’t miss.

That was…until they did. All the sudden a three from Colson followed by one from Farrell pulled the Irish within 11. Next time down the floor Gibbs followed suit. An eight-point game made anything a possibility again.

If Notre Dame needed any more momentum for a comeback, they got it. Austin Torres set himself up to take a charge and Chris Clarke added a push to Farrell, resulting in a technical.

Free throw after free throw Notre Dame stayed within striking distance. The once 21-point deficit was cut down to four with only 3:39 left to play.

Two minutes to go and Colson connected from the wing for the Irish to finally take the lead back 60-59.

The key for the Irish after that…make free throws. And that’s what they did. But, Virginia Tech wasn’t ready to go down. A couple of three-pointers kept the Hokies right in it.

Despite the pushback, Farrell put the game on ice with a few more from the charity stripe.

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The comeback was complete. Notre Dame advances to the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament with a 71-65 victory. Thursday night the Irish will take on Duke at 7 PM ET.