A depleted bench proved to be too much for the young Notre Dame basketball team to overcome late in the game as Notre Dame fell to Virginia Tech 81-66.
Virginia Tech was the better team against a young and now depleted Notre Dame basketball roster. The Irish weren’t supposed to be in it. At times, it looked like they weren’t. Every time it looked like the Hokies were going to run away with the game, Notre Dame found a way to fight back.
With only seven players left in Mike Brey’s rotation, there has never been a group of freshman that have been forced to take one so much so early under Brey.
At times, their youth showed. Early on, Notre Dame’s offense was shook. The pure pressure, especially on the ball, was something that they were not used to or prepared for.
In typical Brey led fashion, Notre Dame calmed down, switched to a 2-3 zone, and got the stops they needed. In return, their shots started falling, as well. The Irish found offensive success scoring in the paint, and then used that success to start hitting from the perimeter.
It’s never said enough: Basketball is a game of runs. This game was the perfect example of that.
Notre Dame would fight their way back. The Hokies would try to run away with it. But Notre Dame was always fighting to stay in the game, fighting to keep pace, and fighting through a shorten bench continuing to lose its depth.
Juwan Durham, Notre Dame’s shot-blocking machine and rim protector, found himself in early foul trouble. After picking up two fouls in the first half, it took just two possessions of the second half for him to pick up two more.
Just like that, half of Notre Dame’s twin tower lineup was on the bench for the majority of the second half. When Durham made his return, the bad quickly became worse.
Durham was shaken up after going for an offensive rebound. The big man was able to walk it off on the sideline after a few minutes. He was quickly called on again as freshman Nate Laszewski, who hit some big shots for 14-points, went down with an apparent knee issue.
A few seconds later, Durham picked up his fifth foul at the top of the key. Just like that, there was no more rotation left for the Irish.
Young, shorthanded, and exhausted, there was nothing left in the tank when the Irish needed to make one last run. Temple Gibbs did everything he could with 19 points, becoming lethal from beyond the arc with five three-pointers.
His strong second half wouldn’t matter in the last few minutes. The Hokies used great spacing and sharp shooting to put the game away. Virginia Tech would finish the game making not only 13 of their last 14 shots, but eight of their final nine three-point attempts.
The floodgates opened and Notre Dame couldn’t do anything to contain it. The first ACC game of the year would go to the Hokies with an 81-66 victory as the Irish fall to 10-4 on the season.