Notre Dame dominated Georgia Tech from start to finish Saturday evening en route to a 90-56 victory at Purcell Pavilion. With the win, Notre Dame clinched a double bye in next month’s ACC tournament. The 34-point margin was also the Irish’s largest victory over a conference opponent since they joined the ACC in 2013.
The last time these two teams faced off Jan. 8, the Irish (21-8, 14-4 ACC) needed overtime to dispatch the Yellow Jackets (11-18, 4-14 ACC). In this contest, however, the Irish shot Georgia Tech out of the building right from the opening tip.
“No game is easy in the ACC, but we played well,” said senior guard Cormac Ryan. “We did a good job continuing to throw punches, I think that’s something we’ve improved on, not backing down and giving up leads. We kept the pressure on them for 40 minutes.”
Head coach Mike Brey credited the team’s unselfish culture for their success. “The way we move it and share it and do it freely, and we don’t care if we’re the hockey assist guy or the assist guy or the guy who gets the bucket,” he said. The team had 21 assists three days after racking up 19 in a win over Syracuse.
The Irish were led by 17 first-half points from senior guard Dane Goodwin and a strong 15-point performance from freshman guard Blake Wesley. As a team, Notre Dame shot 57% from the field, including 13-23from beyond the arc. The Yellow Jackets, by contrast, were held to 34.4% from the field and a paltry 20% from three.
“I think they’re playing as well as anybody in America right now,” said Georgia Tech head coach Josh Pastner. “When they’re making shots like that, they’re hard to beat.”
Goodwin came out scorching hot for the Irish. He scored nine of the team’s first eleven points, and they jumped out to an early double-digit lead after a three-pointer from senior guard Trey Wertz put them up 16-6. The teams went back and forth for the next several minutes but the Irish blew the game open with a 10-0 run towards the end of the half, which took them less than 90 seconds. Goodwin hit back-to-back three-pointers, Wesley converted a tough bucket inside, and Goodwin scored again, forcing Georgia Tech into a timeout.
“We set the tone as always on defense,” Ryan said. “When we’re playing good defense, we get out and run.”
Just before halftime, Wesley made a three despite being fouled, although he couldn’t convert the four-point play. Notre Dame took a 46-27 lead into the locker room thanks to an impressive 67% shooting percentage, including 7-11 from beyond the arc.
The second half was much of the same for the Irish, only with different players doing the scoring. Ryan hit two early three-pointers to continue to build the lead, including one from nearly the logo. He finished the contest with 8 points and 10 rebounds. Senior guard Prentiss Hubb was also very efficient for the Irish. He scored 13 points on 5-6 shooting, to go along with six assists against just a single turnover.
Georgia Tech never came within 20 points of the Irish for the final 19 minutes of the contest and didn’t make a field goal in the last five-plus minutes against Notre Dame’s backups.
The Irish have two games to play in the regular season before heading to Brooklyn for the ACC tournament. It would appear that with the victory, though, the Irish have removed any remaining doubt that they will hear their name called on Selection Sunday.
“I think we are in an amazingly strong position, and man, we’ve missed it,” Brey said.