March 7, 2018
By Robby Hamman
BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Trailing by 21 points and its NCAA Tournament hopes hanging by a thread, Notre Dame (20-13, 8-10 ACC) locked in on both ends of the floor and staged a remarkable comeback to defeat Virginia Tech (21-11, 10-8 ACC) by a score of 71-65 to advance to the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament.
The Irish outscored the Hokies 45-18 over the final 15 minutes of play to seal the six-point victory. Notre Dame was led by senior Matt Farrell on the offensive end, scoring a game-high 22 points. Junior guard Rex Pflueger poured in 14 points, while sophomore guard T.J. Gibbs scored 13 and Bonzie Colson added 12 to pace the Irish offense.
With the victory, Notre Dame will play Duke in the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament at 7 p.m. ET on Thursday, March 8. The game will air live on ESPN.
How It Happened
Notre Dame held an early lead at 13-8, thanks to a pair of makes from the perimeter from Gibbs. The Hokies then scored 19 of the next 23 points to take its first double digit lead of the night at 27-17 with seven minutes left in the first frame. Virginia Tech increased its lead to 13 at 34-21 heading into the halftime break.
The Hokies picked up right where they left off to open the second stanza, pushing its lead to as many as 21 points with 15 minutes left in regulation.
Trailing 51-33, the Irish offense finally kicked into gear. Notre Dame used three straight makes from beyond the arc on successive possessions to power a 17-3 to cut the deficit to just four points at 54-50 with 7:45 left on the clock. Gibbs and Farrell each scored five points in the stretch to spur the comeback.
The two sides traded baskets, moving the score to 59-55 with three minutes to play. The Irish then cut the lead to two points off a layup from Pflueger and then took the lead off a three-pointer to beat the shot clock from Colson to go on top 60-59 with two minutes left on the scoreboard.
Notre Dame’s defense continued to lock down the Hokies, as the Irish lead ballooned to seven points at 66-59 with 35 ticks left on the clock. The Hokies connected on two three-pointers down the stretch but the Irish made enough free throws in the final seconds to come away with the 71-65 victory and keep their tournament hopes alive.
Notre Dame Player Of The Game
On a night the Irish struggled to find offense, Farrell did everything he could to keep the Irish in the game on Wednesday evening. The senior led the team in scoring with 22 points, knocking down four three-pointers and going a perfect 8-for-8 from the free-throw line. Farrell also grabbed five rebounds and dished out five assists.
Notre Dame Stat Of The Game
The Irish scored 50 points on 12-of-21 shooting in the second half. Notre Dame knocked down seven shots from beyond the arc and went 19-of-23 from the free-throw line in the final 20 minutes of play.
- With the win, the Irish are now 8-3 all-time in the ACC Tournament over five seasons.
- Notre Dame improves to 8-2 against Virginia Tech in the all-time series.
- The Irish are now 9-2 all-time at Barclays Center.
- Notre Dame held Virginia Tech scoreless from 6:50-0:28 of game time in the second half to go on a 14-0 run.
- The Irish outrebounded the Hokies 38-32 on the evening, leading to a 10-4 advantage in second chance points.
- The win is Notre Dame’s 20th of the season. The Irish have now recorded 20-plus wins in four straight seasons and 14 times during head coach Mike Brey’s 18-season tenure.
- With 10 makes from three-point range, the Irish have now reached double figures in made three-pointers 13 times this season
- Colson posted his 18th double-digit scoring performance of the year. The senior has finished with 10-plus points in every game he has played this season.
- Farrell has now scored 10-plus points in 24 games this season.
- Gibbs has reached double figures in the scoring column 26 times this season.
- Pflueger has finished with 10-plus points in 14 games this season.
Notre Dame faces Duke in the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament at 7 p.m. ET on Thursday, March 8. The game will be played at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn and will air live on ESPN.
— ND —
Robby Hamman joined Fighting Irish Media as athletics communications assistant director in September 2016, coordinating efforts for the volleyball and men’s lacrosse program. Hamman is a 2010 graduate of Bethel College, where he earned bachelor’s degrees in sport management and business administration, and earned his master’s degree in business administration from Defiance College in 2013.