Jan. 27, 2018
By Robby Hamman
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — Notre Dame (13-8, 3-5 ACC) trailed by as many as 15 points in the second half against Virginia Tech (15-6, 4-4 ACC) before making a valiant comeback to cut the lead to two points with less than two minutes to play. However, the Hokies did just enough down the stretch to escape with an 80-75 victory.
The sophomore duo of T.J. Gibbs and John Mooney stepped up big in primetime, as Gibbs notched a career-high 27 points and Mooney also turned in a personal-best 15 points to lead the Irish offense. Two other Notre Dame players finished in double figures in the scoring column, as Rex Pflueger had 15 points and Martinas Geben added 10.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Notre Dame and Virginia Tech battled in the first half and the Hokies took a seven-point advantage into the halftime break with the score 34-27. The visitors held a lead between five and 10 points for the majority of the first 20 minutes. The play of the first frame came just before the halftime buzzer, as Gibbs sunk a shot from halfcourt to make it a seven-point game.
Virginia Tech increased its lead to 14 at 64-50 with just over 10:30 to go in regulation but Notre Dame responded emphatically. The Irish answered with an 8-0 run, capped by a three-pointer from Gibbs to send the sold-out Purcell Pavilion crowd into a frenzy and cut the Hokies’ lead to just six points. Notre Dame then made it a one-possession game after four free-throws from Gibbs made the score 65-62 with a little less than seven minutes to play.
The two sides traded baskets and the Irish managed to trim the lead to two points at 74-72 with 1:34 remaining. Unfortunately for Notre Dame, the Hokies made enough plays down the stretch to come away with an 80-75 victory.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Gibbs turned in the best game of his career from a scoring perspective, pouring in a career-high 27 points on Saturday night. The sophomore was exceptional in the second half, notching 19 points, going 3-for-5 from beyond the arc. Gibbs finished a perfect 6-for-6 from the free-throw line and also added five assists, two rebounds and a steal.
NOTRE DAME STAT OF THE NIGHT
The Irish shot 16-of-31 from the floor in the second stanza, including a 6-for-12 effort from three-point range.
NOTES OF THE GAME
- Notre Dame has now grabbed more rebounds than the opposition in seven of its eight ACC games this season after outrebounding the Hokies 39-28.
- For the fifth time in eight conference games, the Irish outrebounded their opponent by double digits.
- The Irish knocked down 12 shots from beyond the arc, marking the eighth time this season the team has connected on at least 10 three-pointers.
- With 27 points, Gibbs finished with 20-plus points for the sixth time during his sophomore campaign.
- Pflueger finished with 15 points and has now tallied double-digit points in 10 games this season.
- Mooney recorded his first career double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds on Saturday.
- Mooney grabbed a career-high 11 rebounds, marking the first double-digit rebounding performance of his career.
- Mooney’s 15-point performance marks the third time this season that he has finished with 10-plus points.
- For the 12th time this season Geben finished in double figures in the scoring column, finishing with 10 points against the Hokies.
- With Bonzie Colson, Matt Farrell and D.J. Harvey out with injuries, the Irish have used seven different starting lineups through their first eight ACC contests.
The Irish have a quick turnaround, as the team heads to Durham, North Carolina, for a Big Monday game at Duke. Tip is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Monday, January 29, and the game will air 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.